John Kaley, the 27-year-old Connecticut tow truck driver that crashed into a Nassau County police car and killed Officer Michael Califano, plead guilty to reckless driving on Thursday and will not serve jail time.
The crash happened in February 2011. Kaley fell asleep behind the wheel while driving on the Long Island Expressway and hit Califano’s car. The 44-year-old police officer was pulled over near exit 39 in Old Westbury with his lights flashing while he wrote a citation to a truck driver. He was pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.
Kaley suffered minor injuries during the crash, along with his fiancée that was riding with him. He was originally charged with one count of criminally negligent homicide, three counts of assault and failure to move over for an emergency vehicle. He was immediately arrested after the crash and held on $90,000 bail. Police say he was not under the influence of alcohol.
Judge William O’Brien dismissed the original charge of criminally negligent homicide, a felony that has a maximum prison sentence of four years. Kaley’s license was revoked after he plead guilty to reckless driving, a misdemeanor.
Family members as well as police officers attended the trial, during which prosecutor Maureen McCormick read a prepared statement from Califano’s wife, Jackie. "You cannot give Michael back to us, she said in the statement. “The only thing you can do is give us justice by holding Mr. Kaley accountable for my husband's death." The two had three sons, ages 16, 13 and 8.
Mccormick stated that under current law, prosecutors must prove blameworthiness or dangerous speeding in order to convict someone of criminally negligent homicide. She went on to express frustration that state law did not allow her to convict Kaley of a more serious crime.
Kaley stated that he got five hours of sleep the night before the crash. A two-year investigation by McCormick did not bring up enough evidence to disprove his claim, or find that he had a pattern of falling asleep while driving.
In a statement read by his lawyer, Kaley said “every day I wish I could change things, but I know that's impossible. No family should ever have to go through this. Every day you are in my thoughts and prayers."