MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A grand jury decided not to add or upgrade charges against a retired NYPD officer accused in the hit-and-run death of a 13-year-old girl with Down syndrome in Levittown.
Police said Elardo fled the scene after he blew a red light and hit Soplin as she crossed Hempstead Turnpike. His attorney said Elardo, who claims he didn’t know he hit a person, is inconsolable over what happened.
“He’s not concerned about prison time. He is just concerned about how he is going to live for the rest of his life knowing he took someone off of this earth,” defense attorney Michael Dergarabedian said.
Soplin’s mother, Jennifer Curuchaga, broke down in tears after the arraignment.
“I’m devastated,” Curuchaga said. “He had the guts to say he’s not guilty.”
During the court appearance, prosecutors revealed they have evidence that Elardo was drinking before the crash, but DerGarabedian denied those claims, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
“He was not intoxicated when this happened,” DerGarabedian said. “We have evidence that absolutely disputes that.”
Bryanna’s family shared a video with CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff of the girl dancing to show her size. They said the teen weighed 140 pounds.
“140 pounds — this girl could not have been mistaken for a traffic cone. Not believable,” said the family’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein.
“He’s a heartless man, and if he was drinking, of course he wasn’t going to see her,” Curuchaga said.
The child’s family is asking witnesses to come forward who may have seen Elardo in the hours leading up to the crash.
Elardo, a single father of four, remains free on $50,000 bail and is due back in court on August 11. Bail was originally set at $1 million, but it was reduced earlier this week.
Prosecutors told the judge charges may still be elevated.
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