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Horse carriage driver charged in death of Manhattan equine Ryder faces judge, and irate activists, in court once again

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Ian McKeever, the horse carriage driver facing animal cruelty charges for the infamous Midtown collapse of carriage horse Ryder in 2022, was back in court Wednesday as the high-profile case continues to develop.  

McKeever appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court in the latest hearing as he faces criminal misdemeanor charges for allegedly beating Ryder after it collapsed in Hell’s Kitchen on Aug. 9, 2022. The incident was caught on camera, quickly went viral, and helped re-ignite the debate over the continued carriage horse industry in Manhattan.

The Dec. 20 hearing consisted of defense and plaintiff attorneys filing additional evidence in hopes of proving their case. Despite the new filings, a source within the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said, the complaint and charges are expected to remain unchanged.  

McKeever, a Dublin native, was all smiles, joking and laughing with his lawyer just before entering court Wednesday. That was in stark contrast to the rage animal rights advocates who also attended the hearing continue to feel over the incident. 

McKeever faces criminal misdemeanor charges for allegedly beating his workhorse, Ryder after it collapsed in Hell’s Kitchen on August 9, 2022. Photo by Dean Moses

“It’s appalling. Just smirking and laughing,” Edita Birnkrant, executive director of NYCLASS told amNewYork Metro. “I really don’t think he thinks he did anything wrong. But that’s where the law has to come in and say enough. He shouldn’t even be allowed to profit and own horses right now.”

Following the proceedings, an array of NYCLASS protesters rallied outside of the courthouse and railed against both the horse carriage industry at large and McKeever, charging that he should be forever stripped of the right to operate a horse carriage.

Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS. Photo by Dean Moses

But horse carriage industry spokesperson Christina Hansen pushed back against the demands.

“The carriage industry can’t comment on the court proceedings except to say that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. What matters is what is said in court, not what is shouted outside of it by a handful of NYCLASS operatives,” Hansen shot back.

Hansen also suggested that Ryder perished as a result of cancer, not of neglect — adding that horses in the industry are “well taken care of.”

NYCLASS, on the other hand, believe that Ryder was worked to death and say they continue to document alleged abuse by the industry.

“We are very hopeful that there will be a prosecution of this animal abuser,” Birnkrant said.

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