On the evening of Tuesday, June 29, 2021, Jeffrey Williams was riding home for dinner in the northbound bike lane on Central Park West when he was fatally struck by a United States Postal Service (USPS) truck driver.

The driver, Sergei Alekseev, who had been with the USPS for close to 15 years at that point, claimed he didn’t see the cyclist. Jeffrey Williams, 71, was a couple of months away from retirement and died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

“We don’t have any expectation that anyone will be punished for what happened. The laws favor motorists too much,” Williams’ widow Christopher Brimer said at the time.

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According to the NYPD’s findings, Alekseev hit Williamson with his truck as he made a right turn onto the 86th Street transverse. Williamson was heading straight and had the right of way.

Driver gets shockingly light conviction

In a turn of events that is disturbingly rare when a cyclist is killed by a driver, Sergei Alekseev was eventually criminally charged in the case.

With a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor count of “failure to yield,” to be exact. Oh, and in an example of the authorities really cracking down on unsafe drivers, he also received a traffic summons for “failure to exercise due care.”

The misdemeanor charge comes with a maximum sentence of a month in jail and a $250 fine. For the failure to exercise due care violation, Alekseev will be fined a maximum of $750 and face the possibility of 15 days in jail. He might also be required to complete a driver program.

“I’m happy he was charged with something, but a misdemeanor takes almost no consideration that my husband died,” Brimer told Streetsblog in 2121. “He ran my husband down with a mail truck. The charge of ‘failure to yield’ doesn’t even suggest that a man died. It’s more like, ‘Whoopsie, I guess I didn’t look.'”

Defense manipulated the truth, blamed the cyclist

Fast forward to this week. The trial of Sergei Alekseev resulted in a conviction on the “failure to yield” misdemeanor charge, but not before Alekseev’s defense attorney blamed Williamson for being run over, even though the cyclist clearly had the right of way and was riding in a bike lane.

“The cyclist could have stopped, could have braked,” Defense Attorney Cyrus Joubin said during his closing arguments. The lawyer added that if Williamson had he stopped, the tragedy “would have never happened. That decision cost him his life.”

For Williamson’s widow, the trial was devastating. “At various times the defense attorney said that my husband’s behavior was dangerous and risky,” Brimer said. “The twisting of reality, the manipulation is quite shocking to me—I suppose it shouldn’t be, but it is.”

Driver was charged with reckless driving while employed by USPS

Alekseev was charged in three previous cases of reckless driving, with the first one occurring prior to his employment with the USPS. The two other cases happened while he was employed by the government agency. Speaking of a decision that cost someone their life, the USPS didn’t terminate Alekseev until after he had killed someone.

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Natascha Grief

Natascha Grief got her first bike shop job before she was old enough to drink. After a six-year stint as a mechanic, earning a couple pro-mechanic certifications and her USA Cycling Race Mechanics license, she became obsessed with framebuilding and decided she wanted to do that next.  After Albert Eistentraut literally shooed her off his doorstep, admonishing that if she pursued framebuilding she will be poor forever, she landed an apprenticeship with framebuilder Brent Steelman in her hometown of Redwood City, CA. After that, she spent several years working for both large and not-so-large cycling brands. Somewhere in there she also became a certified bike fitter. Natascha then became a certified personal trainer and spent nine years honing her skills as a trainer and coach, while also teaching Spin. During the dumpster fire that was the year 2020, she opened a fitness studio and began contributing regularly to Runner’s World and Bicycling as a freelance writer. In 2022, she joined the staff of Bicycling as News Editor.