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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

RIP film editor Karen Schmeer

I’d been trying to figure out what there was to say about the recent death of film editor Karen Schmeer, and then I found it (starting at The New York Times):

What began with a report of three men shoplifting over-the-counter drugs from a CVS on the Upper West Side has ended with an arrest for the hit-and-run death of one of the nation’s preeminent documentary editors, whose credits include “The Fog of War.”

The editor, Karen Schmeer, was “one of the greatest editors of her generation,” said Greg Barker, the director of “Sergio,” a documentary for which Ms. Schmeer won an editing award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

Ms. Schmeer, 39, was crossing Broadway at 90th Street just before 8 p.m. on Friday when she was run down by a rented 2010 Dodge Avenger sedan, the police said. She was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

The police had been chasing the car, which matched the description of the shoplifters’ getaway car given by a clerk at the drugstore, at 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Patrol officers tried to pull the car over, but the driver eluded them, hitting another automobile on 87th Street before running down Ms. Schmeer.

Cops chasing armed robbers? Sounds serious. The New York Daily News contradicts some of the Times report:

Prosecutors said Schmeer was hit by the black Dodge Avenger on Broadway, near W. 90th St., shortly after McKie and two accomplices knocked off a nearby CVS pharmacy, swiping $912 worth of prescription drugs.

Were the stolen drugs prescription, or over-the-counter? Were the thieves, in fact, armed? There’s no mention of weapons in any news reports I could find. All accounts, however, indicate that this was a relatively petty crime. And the Daily News also states that the robbery had nothing to do with why the cops were chasing the getaway car:

The trio raced from the drugstore without putting the Dodge’s headlights on, drawing the attention of NYPD cop Michael Monteverde, who attempted to pull them over.

The speeding Dodge blew multiple red lights on Broadway and was weaving in and out of traffic, Monteverde testified, according to the complaint.

So, this cop set off in hot pursuit of a vehicle that did not have its headlights on. And an innocent woman is dead.

Now, I’m generally a fan of the NPYD, but its officers have certainly been known to overreact to a situation and make it worse than it might have been. (*ahem*: The other day NYPD officers handcuffed and arrested a 12-year-old girl for doodling on her desk at school.) Bad guys shouldn’t get away, of course, but their capture was not worth a human life.

Streetblog.org reported earlier this week that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is opening an inquiry into Schmeer’s death.

The final capper for me came when I walked by the location of the hit-and-run the other day, and saw the shrine that has sprung up:

(Thanks to bronxbee, who was with me and had her camera, for the photos.)

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.



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