New York City officials apologize for billing dead man for damaged police car that killed him

Posted at 11:37 PM, Oct 06, 2012

New York City officials are apologizing after sending a letter to a New York man demanding he pay $710 within 10 days for damaging the cop car that struck and killed him during a chase last spring.

Tamon Robinson was caught digging up paving stones at a housing complex in Brooklyn, N.Y., in April, and police started to chase the 23-year-old. When he was struck and killed by the police car during the chase, the front of the vehicle was dented, ABC station WABC-TV reported.

A letter was sent to Robinson in September notifying him that the City of New York was seeking $710 for damage to a police car, according to The Associated Press. His mother, Laverne Dobbinson, said she felt “disrespected” when she received the letter addressed to her late son.

“I was humiliated that they’re sending my son a letter for the car that killed him,” Dobbinson, 45, told the New York Times. “They killed him; let him rest in peace.”

The city has since apologized for the collection demand.

“We regret that Mr. Robinson’s family received a collection notice,” a spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department said in a statement to Saturday. “The notice was sent in error. We recognize that this involves a tragic case.”

The letter was sent by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a law firm that handles the collection effort for the city and police department. After they discovered Robinson had died, they “ceased collection,” the Times reported.

“We were not aware of the circumstances,” Christina Gonzalez, a lawyer for the firm, told the Times. “This type of receivable is not something we pursue when the alleged debtor is deceased.”

Dobbinson’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, has filed a notice that he will file a lawsuit seeking $20 million for the family because of “wrongful death.”