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News10NBC Investigates: U.S. Marshal, RPD, evidence dispel false story after fatal accident

Berkeley Brean
Updated: November 22, 2019 06:22 PM
Created: November 22, 2019 06:20 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It is rare that we react to a story spreading on Facebook, but the allegations are so serious in this case, that we thought we had to do it. 

It involves a man who was hit and killed in the city last Saturday and a vanity license plate that is causing people to spread false information about the driver.

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The story getting shared on Facebook is that the driver was a judge going 90 miles per hour and that the car took off. 

The information News10NBC uncovered all week including the Rochester police report late Friday proves that it's just not true.

The car was driving east on Parsells Avenue in Rochester. It was 11:30 p.m., so it was dark. 

Witnesses and the police report say the car hit Rod Cunningham, 55, as he walked across the street. 

Devyonnia Pierre was sitting in a car when it happened. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: And the sound of the collision sounded like what?

Devyonnia Pierre, heard the crash: I just remember hearing a boom. And it sounded like two cars.

Cunningham died on the street. 

News10NBC obtained a photo of the car, taken by one of Cunningham's relatives. The photo shows the impact almost caved in the windshield. 

The photo also shows the license plate. It says "WDNY 1."

That's why friends and family of Cunningham believe the driver of the car was a federal judge in the Western District of New York, WDNY.

And that's the story spreading on Facebook.

"Berkeley, no. It is not associated with any federal judge or any federal court employee," U.S. Marshal Charles Salina said. 

Friday I met with Salina and RPD Deputy Chief Mark Mura. They wanted to dispel that story. 

"Those are completely inaccurate," Salina said. 

"There is no affiliation with our court system or any of our judges. It is simply a vanity plate," Deputy Chief Mura said. 

The other story spreading is that the driver took off, but I found the property where the photo of the car was taken. 

That's when I found the security camera video from that property. The video shows the car, guarded by Rochester police. It also shows the flashing emergency lights from where Cunningham was hit. The car stopped 10 doors down. 

The police report says the driver of the car said lights from an oncoming car created a glare. The driver told police he did not see Mr. Cunningham. The police report says the driver was given a field sobriety test and the result said he was not drunk. 

We checked and the driver is not a federal employee. 


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