'I just wanted to get close to him'; Brooklyn driver who mowed down bicycling burglar blames crash on car malfunction
An auto mechanic accused of fatally running over a bicycling burglar with his SUV in Brooklyn said Wednesday that he lost control of the vehicle — and suggested that it could have been damaged during the break in that sent him into a rage.
Korey Johnson, 41, who was charged with murder and manslaughter after the gruesome Sunday crash that killed petty thief Donald Roberts, 47, said the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s brakes and steering were not working when he barreled down Broadway and wiped out Roberts.
Johnson even blamed the victim, whom he said had broken into his vehicle. Johnson said a cup that had been in a cup holder may have gotten lodged beneath the brake pedal after Roberts was rummaging around in the car.
He also said Roberts was trying to steal parts he could sell, and might have done something to mess up the steering.
"All I wanted to do was catch him, tackle him, not let him get away,." Johnson said during an interview at the Brooklyn House of Detention, where he is being held without bail. “I just wanted to get close to him.”
Johnson, who also has a long history of arrests, said he had not been drinking.
Johnson said it was close to 5:30 a.m. Sunday when he and Puckett first encountered Roberts outside Woodhull hospital. He said he spotted the career criminal rummaging around in his car, and that two windows had been broken.
When he confronted Roberts, the thief lunged at him with one of the mechanic’s screwdrivers, scratching him before slashing Puckett and speeding off on his bike along Marcus Garvey Blvd, said Johnson.
SUV driver fatally strikes Brooklyn bicyclist suspected of breaking into his vehicle
Johnson said he and Puckett jumped in Jeep and followed, with both he and Roberts ending up in the oncoming traffic lane on Broadway.But when he hit the gas, Johnson said, something went wrong — the Jeep started pulling to the left, and he couldn’t stop.
“I feel terrible,” Johnson said. “Somebody died. It was not my intention to hurt anyone.”