A Nassau County judge has dropped a charge of criminally negligent homicide and other counts against an alleged drunken driver accused of causing a crash that killed a police officer last year.

Judge Jerald Carter also dismissed Tuesday a vehicular manslaughter charge against James Ryan, who was facing those counts in connection with the death of Nassau Police Highway Patrolman Joseph Olivieri.

Marc Gann, the Mineola-based attorney for the 26-year-old Oakdale man, said he expects the rest of the case against his client to be on hold while prosecutors appeal Carter’s decision. Gann argued that another driver struck and killed the officer, not Ryan, who Gann said could not have foreseen that the crash would result in a responding officer’s death.

Authorities have said Ryan, who is free on bail, was driving his Toyota Camry eastbound on the Long Island Expressway when he struck a cab and fled the scene Oct. 18 and then slammed on his brakes, causing an another driver to rear-end his car.

Officer Olivieri responded first, walked across the LIE and was checking on Ryan in the HOV lane when an SUV hit Olivieri and Ryan’s car, authorities have said.

Olivieri, who was the third of four Nassau officers to die in the line of duty in a 20-month span, died shortly later.

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The SUV driver has not been charged.

Ryan previously pleaded not guilty to the dismissed counts as well as charges he is still facing, including driving while intoxicated, vehicular assault, leaving the scene of an accident and other charges.


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