Detective holds onto pension by leaving force

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Det. Kevin Spellman, a Riverdale man accused of vehicular homicide in the death of a 66-year-old Kingsbridge woman, has retired from the New York Police Department to preserve his pension. 

According to police, Mr. Spellman was driving his government-issued Chevy sedan on his way home from a night of drinking on Oct. 30, 2009, when the then-42-year-old struck Drane Nikac on Kingsbridge Avenue near West 232nd Street.

His trial has yet to commence. 

Mr. Spellman’s retirement about a month ago, which was first reported by the New York Daily News, came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law on Sept. 23 that entitles any police officer or firefighter with 20 years experience to a full pension so long as he or she is not convicted of a felony. 

“Taking his pension now would protect his family in the future no matter what happens,” according to his lawyer Peter Brill of Brill Legal Group. 

Mr. Spellman had been on modified assignment — receiving a salary of $98,072, according to the Daily News, before he stepped down. He will continue to collect half that amount but will not leave the NYPD in good standing. 

“The fact that he retired really doesn’t have any effect on the case whatsoever,” said lawyer Rosemarie Arnold, who is representing the Nikac family in a civil suit. 

She said pensions are normally assets that are off limits in a civil judgment.

“If they fired him and he had no job, he wouldn’t have had any assets anyway,” she said.

Aside from the financial impact of Mr. Spellman’s decision, she said the family does not wish Mr. Spellman ill. 

“They have no animosity toward him. He has expressed great remorse toward them,” she said. 

The criminal trial has been delayed repeatedly since August. The next court date is on Thursday, May 31, but Mr. Brill said he expects the prosecution will not be ready and that there will be further delays.