Monday, December 8

Yo-Yo post and emotions...

The last post is evidence, I hope, of my desire to move on to more motorcycle related posts. I am trying. However, it seems that this period of my life is dominated by my brother Michael's tragic death. I am heavily involved in the investigation. In fact, from what I've been told, I've supplied the investigator with most of the information he has.  I've been helped by generous, amazing people in the community. I'm frustrated and more than a little perturbed that the man who struck Michael still walks the streets--and drive--with impunity. 

I've supplied the license plate number of the car; the name of the passenger in the driver's car; info that the car was a rental (which turns out to be true!); and, the name of several people who saw the man in the car. Yet, he hasn't been picked up. That is until, last Wednesday. He turned himself in to the police accompanied by a lawyer. The community has been mounting pressure in the form of subtle distancing. Some have repeatedly asked him to come forward. The rumor on the street is that his family has encouraged him not to come forward.  

The investigator called me Wednesday night and said, "I have good news and I have bad news." The good was that he was in the police station that very moment. The bad is that he was going to "walk out" with only a few traffic tickets.  One ticket was for driving without a license. Another was for knowing of a traffic accident and not reporting it; the other, I think, was for leaving the scene of an accident. He said he didn't do it and that another car was involved.  The police officer was restricted in what he could ask him because his lawyer prevented that. The officer told me that his man has a "long criminal record" and that he "knows the system" and that he just might get off if no one can actually put him behind the wheel. I don't get this. What about the mounting evidence that does every thing short of that? It's called hit and run, for heaven sake! A person does it and leaves the scene, often long before anyone can get a plate number. But in this case, it happened in a relatively small community, where every one knows everyone else. Where there are no secrets in such places. Where people talk to each other and confessions are inevitably given to friends who talk...

But every person, and there have many, who have called the motor vehicle department anonymously and they have supplied this man's name. This information has been unequivocal in its consistency. No other name has been mentioned!  I even obtained the name of the person who helped the culprit change the tires on the rental car! Yet, this car has not been impounded. I'm trying to resist the feeling that the investigator doesn't care enough to make this a priority case. I could be wrong. But it's how I'm feeling. I keep asking why the car hasn't been impounded. The last response I was given is unacceptable. "We're working on that but the rental company said the car is currently being rented, so we're waiting until it is returned." What the heck is that all about?! That's a bunch of DNA evidence that is being destroyed! The rumor is that the car was re-rented by the same family.  Why doesn't the police have the power to say, "That car is suspected of being involved in a traffic fatality, get it here immediately!?" I can't help feeling that if Michael was a Bush or a Kennedy or even an Obama, his case would garner more attention. I'm hoping this is just my anger talking and not the deep corners of my heart. 

I pressure the investigator often to find out what is happening with all the names I've supplied, some of whom have been interviewed. But I keep hearing that they need someone willing to put their name on paper, to come forward in a public sense. What the police don't seem to get is that these people are afraid. They live in a place where the police do not always "serve and protect."  This man is supposedly part of a crime family.  One threat has already been issued. One person supposedly has already received money and/or drugs to keep quiet. I understand the community's fear. I understand also that many fear the police too. Good people have been harmed in the past.   From their perspective, it must be difficult to know the good from the bad. I get that. And, I'm trying to appreciate the bind this puts people in. Still.The guy is now driving another rental car. I gave the police that license plate number too. I am out some money for paying for some of this information. I am not rich. I can't afford this and I only did it for one critical piece of information. The person didn't know I would pay nor did the person ask. But s/he is in obvious dire financial muck so I did it for his/her children and as a token of my appreciation that the person risked personal safety to come forward and do the right thing. This individual recently moved from the community to a place I will not mention here. This person can put the guy at the scene, standing over my brother. This person saw him drive away. This person saw him return and blend in with the crowd that had assembled at the scene. This person saw the car drag my brother. What more do they need to arrest him?!

The police has told me that they "hope" that by the time he comes in for the traffic tickets they can upgrade the charges to a felony but this is a big "IF." I've been told to prepare myself that this could take a year or more. I don't get that. Why can't they lean harder on the guy who was the passenger, the man who helped change the tires, or, the guy who was threatened to keep quiet--why hasn't these been pursued to the nth degree? 

The investigator told me that when a hit and run occurs, that case will take primacy over old cases. Michael's case is considered old. He was hit 21 days ago; he's been dead 17 days. Strange how something so recent to us, something so fresh in our hearts is considered "old."

I am not a litigious person. But I have contacted a lawyer to see if I can get info on the rental company (Alamo!) and get that car examined. Apologies again for unrelated motorcycle content. I'm trying to switch gears, no pun intended.   But this case is what's on my mind. Not motorcycles. At least not today. Just this.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

Call 60 Minutes and 20/20. See if you can get someone interested in your story. Was the driver of the car white? If so, see what grounds exist for getting this tagged as a "hate" crime and go federal. Federal Authorities might be delighted to go after a crime family member on any account.

Now, if the defendant has been charged with driving the car without a license -- and the car has been positively linked to the accident -- file a civil suit against Alamo for $5 million dollars (to get media coverage) for renting a car to an individual without a license. That is corporate negligence.

I was struck by white trash driving a pick-up truck in what was once rural New Jersey. The truck bent the crash bars on my bike, but I did not drop it. The cops chased the truck, but it got away. They got the plate number. The driver was issued a summons, but beat the wrap because no one could identify him as the driver of the car.

My only other option was to file a civil suite against the driver's insurance company.

Get creative in your search for justice.

Fondest regards,

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Jack, Thanks.
It can't be labeled a "hate" crime. The car has not been positively identified because the police has yet to demand that the car rental company turn over the car! The car's plate has been positively IDed. The police has been slow, cavalier, and oddly lazy. The car was rented to someone who has allowed the guy to drive it. We know who hit him. I have contacted an investigative reporter with one of the major newspapers here. Waiting for them to move on it. I must be somewhat careful in that the family of this guy has already threatened the mother of someone they feel has provided information to the police. Moreover, we're trying to avoid dealing with the local police, which is suspected of being on the take. We're dealing with a police unit outside the immediate community, which has its own pros and cons. I am seeing a lawyer soon. This has become a full time job for sure. Thanks for your suggestions.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

I can only imagine what these details are doing to you. I'll try and think of something else.

Your pal,
Twisted Roads

unlocku said...

No reason to apologize for writing about your brother. Keep us posted.
I wish you the best.


Heinz N Frenchie said...

We all care and are deeply concerned so please keep us informed. It does sound like you could use some media attention. That can spur the police to further actions.