Defendant: Jesse Cohen  (DOB 01/30/96)

April 2, 2019 -- Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced that motorist Jesse Cohen of West Islip, NY, was indicted and arraigned on charges stemming from a traffic crash caused by distracted driving which seriously injured NYS Trooper Joseph Gallagher on an overpass of the Sagtikos Parkway in Suffolk County in December 2017.

The Westchester DA’s Office was appointed Special Prosecutor and is handling the case. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office recused themselves due to a conflict.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted Cohen on Assault in the Third Degree with Criminal Negligence, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison. He was arraigned in Suffolk County Court in Central Islip today and released on his own recognizance. The defendant is due back in court May 7, 2019.

Trooper Gallagher remains in a rehabilitation facility and is severely disabled.

On Dec. 18, 2017, just before 2:30 p.m., Trooper Gallagher assisted a motorist with a disabled vehicle on a two-lane overpass connecting the Long Island Expressway (LIE) with the Sagtikos Parkway in Commack in the Town of Smithtown. Trooper Gallagher closed one lane, blocking the rear of the vehicle with his patrol car with its lights on, and placed flares to divert traffic around the disabled car. While more than one car successfully passed the trooper in the right lane, motorist Jesse Cohen failed to move right and drove his car into Trooper Gallagher.

The indictment alleges, data from Cohen’s phone shows he sent and received dozens of text messages in a number of separate conversations in the 20 minutes leading up to striking Trooper Gallagher.

Today, Trooper Gallagher remains under constant care in a rehabilitation hospital. Because of his severe injuries, he cannot walk, talk or eat on his own.

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. said, “This is the type of accident that never should have happened. It is our job to see this case is prosecuted fairly to the fullest extent of the law. Drivers need to understand distracted driving costs lives in many different ways. They must realize the enormity of distracted driving’s potential consequences and the harm it can do to themselves and others.”  DA Scarpino added, “Our thoughts remain with Trooper Gallagher and his family.”

Major David Candelaria, New York State Police Troop L Commander said, “Texting while driving is dangerous for the driver, other motorists and our first responders who are working to protect the driving public. The deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving are 100 percent preventable. This crash that severely disabled Trooper Gallagher was preventable. We urge all drivers to put down your device. Your choice could save a life.”

Westchester County Assistant District Attorneys Julia Cornachio, Chief of the District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Bureau, and Jonathan Strongin, Deputy Chief of the Career Criminal Bureau, are prosecuting the case.

Jesse  Cohen

Jesse Cohen

 In compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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