Local man sentenced for racing accident

2011 incident resulted in death of off-duty NYPD officer


Jonathan Lopez, of East Meadow, was sentenced to 10 months in jail for his involvement in a crash that resulted in the death an off-duty New York City Police Officer, Kevin Jessup, in September 2011.

In November, a jury convicted Lopez, 22, of one count of third-degree assault, one count of second-degree reckless endangerment and one count of reckless driving, all misdemeanors. He was acquitted of a higher charge, second-degree manslaughter, of which he could have faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted, according to his attorney, Bruce Barket.

“We were pleased he was acquitted of the manslaughter charge,” said Barket, who is based in Garden City. “That never should have been brought to begin with.”

According to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, Lopez was racing his Nissan 350Z against an off-duty police officer eastbound near Exit 31 on the Southern State Parkway. The two racers made contact and the off-duty police officer left the roadway, struck the trees, and was killed.

Lopez’s car then rear-ended the vehicle of an FBI special agent, causing her minor injuries. Lopez’s car flipped multiple times after striking the agent’s car, but he was not injured and was arrested later that morning by state police.

Barket said he plans to appeal the misdemeanor conviction. “The judge, during her sentence, said [Lopez] was an excellent individual,” he said. “A good person, who made a mistake.”