Brooklyn DA: “Suspect charged in the death of Matthew Jensen”

The Brooklyn District Attorney named a suspect believed to be responsible for fatally striking beloved P.S. 110 school teacher Matthew Jensen. 

The incident took place along McGuinness Boulevard last May, when Jensen was struck by the driver of a Rolls Royce whilst walking home from his 58th birthday party. 

According to the DA’s office, 30-year-old Tariq Witherspoon from Bushwick was arraigned on charges. The allegations include crimnally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, second-degree reckless endagerment, reckless driving, and excessive speed.  

“Matthew Jensen was a beloved teacher at P.S.110 who is sorely missed by his students, co-workers, friends and family,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will now seek to bring this defendant to justice for his alleged actions, which left a community heartbroken.” 

Following a rally over Jensen’s death, former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that the city would spend $39 million to redesign McGuinness Boulevard into a safer thoroughfare. 

“One driver may have committed this act, but it is our city that is ultimately responsible. The way to ensure that this tragedy is never again repeated is through a comprehensive redesign of McGuinness Boulevard. Eliminating travel lanes on McGuinness eliminates the possibility of dangerous speeding by design,” members of the Make McGuinness Safe Coalition, an advocacy group that has been advocating for safety changes in the redesign, said in a statement.

Matthew Jensen on the bulletin board of P.S. 110 (Photo Courtesy of Jensen Family)

Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, who has been an advocate for making changes to McGuinness Boulevard for years, suggested that policy is the correct way to get justice for Jensen rather than incarceration. 

“Since 2013, there have been 1,450 reported crashes, injuring 40 cyclists and 59 pedestrians. Some of them will never fully recover. The only way to permanently reduce and eliminate these needless tragedies is to redesign our roadways to be safer for everyone,” Assemblywoman Gallagher said.

Councilman Lincoln Restler, a friend of Matthew Jensen’s, echoed similar sentiments. 

“Accountability matters. I’m hoping for healing and restorative justice for Matthew’s cousin John, the rest of his family and friends, and all of our neighbors mourning this painful loss,” Restler said. “Our office is committed to moving the Make McGuinness Safe project forward as swiftly as possible to protect our community.”

Witherspoon is currently being held on bail of $75,000 bond or $15,000 cash and is due to return to court on April 27, 2022.