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Here’s How You Can Crash a Gemballa Mirage Into 5 Cars and Have the Case Dropped

This week started on an excellent note for millionaire racer, car collector, and goldRush Rally founder Benjamin Chen: charges brought against him after he went on a destruction spree in Manhattan last year were dropped. There was not enough evidence to pursue legal action.
The story is a very strange one, and, yes, it involves a rare supercar, a now-gone 2014 Gemballa Mirage GT. It was one of the 25 heavily modified Porsche Carrera GTs made and it was owned by Benjamin Chen. It was also wrecked by Chen, who, presumably under the influence of drugs, crashed it twice while speeding through Manhattan on the morning of April 7, 2020.

On that morning, Chen was speeding through a straight intersection in Hell’s Kitchen. The streets were mostly empty since New York was in the middle of lockdown, but security cameras caught the initial collision. Bystanders then filmed the rest on their phones after they were drawn by the commotion. You can see a compilation of various footage in the video at the bottom of the page.

Coming fast out of the intersection, Chen, at the wheel of his Gemballa Mirage GT, slammed into the back of a rear Toyota Sienna, sending it flying. Just moments later, he drove away. Better said, he sped away, with parts flying off the damaged supercar, running a couple of red lights in the process. He didn’t get far: on the same street, he lost control for the second time and crashed into four more parked vehicles.

By this time, police arrived at the scene and asked him to get out of the badly damaged vehicle. Chen complied but, at one point, he tried to get back inside and flee once more. He was prevented from doing so by an officer, who asked him for his keys, as bystanders were yelling that he would otherwise run away.

Chen was arrested for reckless driving and driving under the influence of drugs. To the public, it seemed like a sure case: Chen would get at the very least a minimum sentence that would act as a slap on the wrist. Then, on Monday, despite apparent overwhelming evidence, the case against him was dropped. He will still have to pay for damages, of course, but criminally, he’s in the clear.

The whole situation is confusing, to say the least. If video of a guy smashing into parked vehicles and fleeing (and, might as well add, decidedly swaying on his feet as he gets out of his own car) is not enough evidence to prosecute, then what is? Surely, the fact that Chen is a millionaire helped with this swift and favorable imparting of justice?

Not so, says former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Nathan Burney in an interview with Road And Track. It all boils down to a couple of technicalities, in fact.

A reckless driving charge is difficult to prove beyond doubt in New York. The law, Burney says, makes it easy for police to arrest you for whatever interpretation one officer gives to reckless driving. However, the courts will look at two things: driving that “unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway,” or “unreasonably endangers users of the public highways.” You have to put people in danger with your driving to be guilty of reckless driving.

On that day, Chen was speeding because the streets of NYC were empty. Like many other car enthusiasts, he took advantage of nearly nonexistent city traffic to floor it, and the result was something similar to a demolition derby. Because of the lockdown, there were no people for him to endanger with his driving; therefore, he isn’t guilty of reckless driving, Burney explains.

As for the driving under the influence charge being dropped, one of three things could have happened: the police arrested him because he was displaying signs of being under the influence, but toxicology results came back negative; he did take drugs, but they weren’t included on the list of controlled substances; or the police made errors in processing evidence.

There is no fourth option, like the one that went through many people’s minds: that Chen paid his way out of the charges. “[The Manhattan DA’s Office are] not going to bow to any pressure, soft or hard, to do something that they think is wrong. That's just not going to happen,” Burney insists.

So maybe Chen didn’t pay to have the case against him dropped. That would make him a lucky fellow on different counts: he’s a millionaire, and totaling an expensive and rare supercar feels like loose change to him; he caused mayhem in the said supercar and walked away without a scratch; he didn’t hurt anybody else; he won’t be criminally charged for what he did because of technicalities. Anyone else in his place would say at least a gazillion prayers this week, as thanks.



 
 
 
 
 

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