New York

Ex-con arrested for manslaughter for booze-fueled 2020 crash that killed NYPD cop expecting first child

An ex-con a judge called “a danger” more than 16 years ago has been arrested for manslaughter for a booze-fueled 2020 Queens crash that killed a beloved NYPD cop expecting his first child, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Kassun Brown, 31, was ordered held without bail in Queens Criminal Court on Monday after he was indicted for the Jan. 17, 2020, collision in St. Albans, police and prosecutors said.

Brown was drunk when he blew past a stop sign at Lucas St. and Nashville Blvd. about 11:50 p.m. and slammed into a Nissan driven by Officer Michael Ellis, according to prosecutors. Ellis was off duty when he was struck.

Ellis, a St. Albans resident assigned to the 63rd Precinct in Brooklyn, was critically hurt and died at Jamaica Hospital a month later.

“He was a great kid, he touched a lot of souls,” Ellis’ father, Kevin Smith, told the Daily News Tuesday. “He’s sorely missed. Our house is like a shrine with his pictures all over the place.”

His son would have turned 38 last week, the heartbroken dad said. He and his girlfriend had been expecting the arrival of their first child.

“He was great around kids, he loved kids,” Smith, 67, said. “It’s a shame because he never got to see his daughter born.”

Brown and his 20-year-old passenger were also rushed to the hospital. Brown had a dislocated right ankle and his passenger suffered a fractured femur, cops said.

No charges were immediately filed against Brown as NYPD Collision Investigation Squad detectives investigated. At the time of the crash, Brown lived about four blocks away from the crash scene, cops said.

In 2007, when he was just 16, Brown was arrested for being the “wheel man” in a fatal drug-related shooting in Schenectady. A year later, he pleaded guilty to weapon and drug possession charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

“You are a danger,” Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago told Brown at the time. “You need to be removed from the community.”

Brown was paroled in 2018.

But eighteen months after Ellis died, Brown was convicted of drug possession in Washington County, New York, and sentenced to 14 years in prison, court officials said.

He was serving the second year of his sentence at the Eastern Correctional Facility when he was indicted on manslaughter charges and brought to Queens to be arraigned.

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“There is nothing more irresponsible and selfish than getting behind the wheel and driving under the influence,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Tuesday. “The defendant is alleged to have been driving while intoxicated and will be held to account for the tragic consequences of that decision, the senseless death of an NYPD officer.”

Brown was speeding south on Nashville Blvd. when he blew past a stop sign and slammed into Ellis’ Nissan Altima, which was traveling west along Lucas St., prosecutors said.

Ellis’ Altima went flying into two unoccupied parked cars, then crashed into a telephone pole where the vehicle caught fire. Ellis was thrown from the car and knocked unconscious, cops said.

After a three-year investigation, prosecutors indicted Brown on charges of manslaughter, assault, drunk driving and failing to stop at a stop sign.

He faces up to seven-and-a-half years in prison if convicted, on top of the 14-year sentence he’s already serving, officials said.

Before becoming a cop, Ellis was thinking of becoming a firefighter and was in a popular R&B singing group, his father said.

“He was my right hand,” said Smith. “Anytime I felt down about anything he would always find a way to brighten it up. He had a huge heart.”


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