NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was an emotional day in court Thursday for a family who came face-to-face with the NYPD officer accused of driving drunk in a crash that left a Queens woman dead.
Officer Neville Smith, 32, appeared before a judge at Queens Criminal Court. He was walking with a cane, still suffering from injuries he suffered in the crash that killed 22-year-old Vanessa Raghubar, critically injured her sister, Maria Raghubar, and caused minor injuries to Maria’s boyfriend, Justin Harricharran.
Smith was off duty on April 21 when he crashed into Raghubar’s car on the Van Wyck Expressway, prosecutors said. Prosecutors say he refused a breathalyzer test.
Smith has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and negligent homicide and is out on $300,000 bond.
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez talked exclusively to the Raghubar family, who were in court as Smith faced a judge for the first time Thursday.
“I have nothing to say to him. Nothing at all,” said Michael Raghubar, the victim’s brother. “I just want to see him behind bars — away for life. I never want to see his face again.”
“It’s very painful,” said Esther Mongul, the victim’s aunt. “When I look at him, all I could think of, that I will never see Vanessa again. And he took her away from me.”
Smith’s attorney, Brendan Ahearn, spoke on his client’s behalf in court Thursday.
“The family and he are just incredibly heartbroken over this tragedy,” Ahearn said.
“That didn’t give me any comfort — none at all,” Mongul said. “I want to see justice. I want him to be punished for what he did.”
Maria Raghubar, 21, suffered severe internal injuries in the crash and underwent several surgeries. She remains hospitalized at Jamaica Hospital, where she is listed in stable condition.
Smith has been suspended from the NYPD.
He is due back in court on June 16.