MINEOLA, New York – A New York Fire Department employee was held on $1 million bail Dec. 24 after authorities said he ran over an Indian American college honors student on Long Island after a minor accident.
Daniel Coppolo, 31, of Deer Park, pleaded not guilty in the Nov. 9 accident that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Taranjit Parmar of Levittown (see earlier story in India-West here).
Judge Eileen Goggin set bail at $1 million, well above the $600,000 bail requested by prosecutors in First District Court in Hempstead.
In court papers, police authorities said Coppolo was driving a car in Levittown when it was involved in a minor accident with a Jeep driven by Parmar.
They said Coppolo initially got out of the vehicle to assess the damage but refused to call police to report the accident or exchange information with Parmar.
He then got in his vehicle and tried to leave the scene as Parmar held onto the handle of his driver's side door and asked him to stay, court papers said.
Instead, police said, he fled through a parking lot "operating his vehicle in an extremely reckless manor while the victim was holding onto the car."
After the victim was dragged for several feet, her body was run over by the rear driver's side tire, police said of the encounter that was captured on video. Parmar was declared dead at a hospital.
Defense attorney Lawrence Carra said he hasn't seen credible evidence that his client, a fire department dispatcher who was on medical leave from the job for the last several months, was the driver of the vehicle that ran over Parmar.
Carra called the death a "true tragedy" and offered condolences to Parmar's family.
But he said he'll wait until he sees all the evidence to decide how to proceed with the defense of a man with a history of mental problems.
"We're keeping an open mind," he said.
He said Coppolo was arrested Dec. 23 as he was being released on $2,500 bail on a robbery charge in an unrelated case. Carra said he was interrogated by two homicide detectives.
Renjit Parmar, father of the Adelphi University dental honors student, told a Mineola news conference the public provided leads resulting in Coppolo's arrest.
Coppolo was charged with manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, tampering with physical evidence and reckless endangerment.
The tampering charge resulted because authorities claimed that Coppolo applied a fresh coat of wax or other substance to his fender to hide that an accident had occurred, the lawyer said.