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Teen Driver Charged In Hit-And-Run Death Of Ariel Russo, 4, Accused Of Dragging Police Officer

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teen driver accused in the 2013 hit-and-run death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo has been arrested again for allegedly dragging and injuring a police officer during a traffic stop over the weekend.

Franklin Reyes Jr., 18, was charged with assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, reckless driving and unlicensed driving, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, Sofia Russo remained in a state of shock Wednesday after learning that the teen driver who allegedly killed her 4-year-old daughter, Ariel, in June of last year had been arrested yet again on accusations of driving without a license.

“I was in denial,” Sofia Russo said. “I didn’t want to believe that it was true.”

Around 6 p.m. Sunday, authorities said Reyes made an illegal left turn at 181st Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights, according to a criminal complaint.

When he was pulled over, NYPD Officer Edward O’Connell told Reyes to put the sport-utility vehicle he was driving into park, the complaint said. O’Connell then reached into a passenger side window to try to put the SUV into park, authorities said.

Teen Driver Charged In Hit-And-Run Death Of Ariel Russo Accused Of Hitting, Dragging Police Officer

franklin reyes 0719 Teen Driver Charged In Hit And Run Death Of Ariel Russo, 4, Accused Of Dragging Police Officer
Irene Cornell reports

That was when Reyes drove off with the officer’s arm still inside the vehicle, authorities said. O’Connell was dragged about 100 feet and suffered contusions to his wrist and elbow, the complaint said.

When Reyes was arrested a short time later, police said he refused to put his hands behind his back, swung his arms up and down and kicked his legs, according to the complaint.

Police said Reyes also only had a learner’s permit.

As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, Reyes’ mother last month in court asked for leniency in the manslaughter case in the death of Ariel Russo. She insisted that her son was a “good boy.”

On Wednesday, Reyes’ mother hid her face as she fled the Manhattan courthouse where her son was also being arraigned on larceny charges in a separate incident. He now has three open cases on the Criminal Court docket.

During Reyes’ arraignment Wednesday, the teen’s attorney argued that his client had been left alone at a relative’s apartment and, feeling lonely, took the car to drive home, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported. The judge had already ordered Reyes not to drive under any circumstances.

Judge Gregory Carro denied bail and ordered Reyes jailed as a flight risk.

“In the very beginning, I thought maybe he was a good kid who just made one mistake,” Sophia Russo told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones. “He has no regard for the safety of others.”

In June 2013, Reyes was accused of fatally running down Ariel while fleeing from police on the Upper West Side.

Ariel Russo (Handout)

Ariel Russo (Handout)

He has been charged with manslaughter in that case. A trial date has been set for Sept. 24.

The Russos’ attorney said the latest arrest should put the end to talk of treating Reyes as a kid.

“This young man should not get youthful offender treatment. He should be treated like an adult,” Rubenstein told 1010 WINS. “He should be an example that if you do this kind of behavior, you will be held criminally accountable and go to jail for a long time.”

Ariel’s father and mother were even more blunt, saying they want the adult maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for reyes.

“Fifteen years from now, he’ll still be alive,” said Alan Russo. “My daughter will not be alive.”

“I would just try to make him to understand what he took away from us,” added Sofia Russo. “He does not deserve youthful offender treatment and he does not deserve a lighter sentence.”

Teen Driver Charged In Hit-And-Run Death Of Ariel Russo, 4, Accused Of Dragging Police Officer

ariel Teen Driver Charged In Hit And Run Death Of Ariel Russo, 4, Accused Of Dragging Police Officer
1010 WINS' Al Jones reports

In June, Reyes and his father were also charged with allegedly looting an apartment where the father worked as the superintendent.

Police said the father-son duo swiped $2,000 worth of jewelry, cash and electronics from a tenant who had died of brain cancer.

The judge in the case will decide if Reyes is entitled to youthful offender status later this month.

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