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February 21, 2024

Long Island driver who struck and killed NYPD officer while drunk gets 20-plus years in prison

By Samantha Max

A Long Island woman was sentenced to more than two decades in prison on Wednesday for a drunken-driving crash that killed an NYPD detective in 2021.

Jessica Beauvais, 35, was convicted by a Queens jury last fall of aggravated manslaughter and leaving the scene of an incident in the death of Detective Anastasios Tsakos. She could have been sentenced to up to 27 years behind bars.

“For everyone’s safety and wellbeing, including her own, the defendant should not have been behind the wheel of a car,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “A police officer, doing his job protecting others, lost his life. I hope today’s sentence provides at least some closure for the detective’s loved ones.”

A spokesperson for the Legal Aid Society, which represented Beauvais at trial, declined to comment.

According to the DA’s office, Tsakos and another officer were directing traffic near a deadly crash on the Long Island Expressway around 1:57 a.m. on April 27, 2021 when Beauvais sped through traffic cones blocking off the scene and hit Tsakos, throwing him 170 feet and severing his leg. He died at a hospital soon after.

The DA’s office said Beauvais continued to drive for about three miles, until she drove onto a sidewalk in front of the Horace Harding Expressway, then backed up into a police car.

Prosecutors said Beauvais' eyes were bloodshot and her speech was slurred when officers removed her from her car and arrested her. Two hours later, her blood alcohol content was .15 — nearly twice the legal limit. She told law enforcement she had smoked marijuana and drank wine earlier that day, according to the DA’s office.

A jury convicted Beauvais of second-degree aggravated manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting in October. Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise sentenced her to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for the aggravated manslaughter charge and an additional two-and-a-third to seven years behind bars for fleeing the scene, as well as five years of supervision after her release.

Beauvais recorded a podcast episode shortly before the crash, in which she criticized the criminal justice system and the police. She also spoke about the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd, whose criminal trial had ended days earlier.

“Like NWA say about the police: 'If you’re going to kill me, at least I get to take a couple of you with me,'” she said, referencing the group's song “F--- Tha Police.”

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry condemned Beauvais for taking Tsakos away from his wife and two children at a press conference after the sentencing, where he was flanked by rows of officers.

“Today is justice, but it’s not a day of joy or closure for this family, who has to deal with the pain of his loss every single day,” he said.

Traffic crashes are among the most common causes of death for police across the country, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. They were the second-most common cause of death last year, when they claimed the lives of 37 officers, according to the organization’s latest annual report.