Police Say They Won’t Investigate Non-Fatal Hit-and-Run Crash for 12 Days

Approximate scene of crash involving visitor from Brooklyn
The crash occurred on Milwaukee Avenue, near the black parked car.

Last Thursday at around 4:30 p.m., a driver crashed into a bicyclist returning from a quick trip to The Bike Lane, a bike shop on Milwaukee Avenue across from the Congress Theater. The driver fled the scene and remains at large, while the cyclist – Michael Leete, visiting from Brooklyn, New York – was left on the ground with bleeding around his brain. The driver may have been exiting or entering a parallel parking space near 2207 N Milwaukee Avenue.

The victim’s attorney, Brendan Kevenides, is seeking witnesses to the crash. (Disclosure: Kevenides and The Bike Lane are sponsors of Streetsblog Chicago.) There may be at least one witness: A passerby who arrived at the scene after the crash told Kevenides that police interviewed someone at length, but the department not yet made the crash report available, which would provide a name and contact for the witness.

Kevenides wrote on his blog about the complications of getting police to investigate the crash in a timely manner, similar to the delays seen in the Dustin Valenta case (another hit-and-run crash):

A call to the Chicago Police Department’s 14th District, which would have responded to the scene, resulted in being directed to the “Hit and Run Unit” which is a part of the CPD’s Major Accident Investigation Unit. When I spoke with a representative of the Unit today I was informed that no one would be assigned to investigate the hit and run incident until 12 days had passed from the date of the crash. Only in the event of a fatality does the Unit respond contemporaneously, I was told.

Kevenides told Streetsblog that it may take seven days or longer to get the crash report that would have the witness’s information. “We’re at the mercy of the police or someone else coming forward with more information.” Kevenides has met with several business owners to review their exterior camera footage, none of which captured the crash. One business’s awning blocked the view of the crash scene.

If anyone could navigate the mean streets of Chicago, it was Kevenides’s client. The victim, who received stitches to his face and was diagnosed with cranial bleeding at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center before returning to New York City on Sunday, commutes from Brooklyn to Manhattan daily, over seven miles each way. If you have information about the crash, call or email Kevenides: 312-803-0128.

  • The delay in getting crash reports can cause real problems for crash victims and their attorneys. Sometimes (if you’re lucky) a report is available after only a week, but delays of 3-4 weeks or more are not that unusual.

    The police department’s creaky old technology infrastructure hinders police in trying to handle incidents well. This is one area where lack of city investment in up-to-date technology has really hurt us.

  • Randy Neufeld

    Do we know if this a formal policy for all serious crashes regardless of mode? If it had been a serious ped or motorist injury would they have pursued the hit and run? Also how do they know which crashes are fatal? If a victim dies within 30 days of a crash, it’s a fatal crash, so it makes sense that they would need to follow-up on all serious injuries just to make sure they respond to the fatals.
    Finally do we know a major U.S. city that does this right?
    Thanks,

  • Good questions Randy. Steven’s taking his new touring bike on its maiden voyage today but I’m sure he’ll respond by tomorrow.

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