Court vacates most serious charges against driver in Nassau officer’s death

Posted: Updated:

A state judge has vacated the most serious convictions against an Oakdale man convicted in a highway crash that killed a Nassau police officer.

News 12 has reported that James Ryan was convicted of being intoxicated when he caused two accidents on the Long Island Expressway in October 2012. Officer Joseph Olivieri was responding to those accidents when another driver, Francis Belizaire, fatally struck him.

The appeals court judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence to uphold the manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide convictions, since Ryan wasn't the driver who killed Olivieri. 

His attorney Marc Gann told News 12 that the evidence was insufficient for those charges.

"I really felt it was an injustice that he was convicted of them in the first place," Gann said.

Ryan's DWI and assault convictions will stand.

The Nassau PBA president condemned the court's decision.

"I'm disappointed with the outcome," James McDermott said. "A police officer's life was lost due to his negligence, and my heart goes out to the Olivieri family."

The Nassau District Attorney's Office said the court's decision was disappointing and that prosecutors are reviewing their options to appeal.

In the meantime, Ryan's parents are driving upstate to pick up their son when he's released from prison sometime Thursday.

"They feel, in some way, vindicated," Gann said.

Olivieri's family could not be reached for comment.

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