Cops’ Failure to Report Valenta Crash Delays Search for Hit-And-Run Driver

Slowed-down footage of the white truck running over Valenta from a Citibank security camera. Video courtesy of Keating Law Offices.

The hunt for the hit-and-run driver who severely injured cyclist Dustin Valenta on Febraury 8 has been delayed for two weeks because the responding officers failed to notify the Chicago Police Department’s Major Accidents Investigation Unit, according to Valenta’s lawyer Michael Keating. As of yesterday afternoon, the crash still hadn’t been reported to MAIU, the department’s news affairs office told Streetsblog.

A motorist in a parked car doored Valenta as he pedaled by Artemio’s Bakery, 1443 North Milwaukee in Wicker Park. While he lay in the street, a second driver in a white pickup truck ran him over and continued driving, as shown on security video footage Keating recently recovered from a nearby Citibank.

The crash site. Photo by John Greenfield.

News Affairs’ Officer Daniel O’Brien said the Illinois Traffic Crash Report completed on the day of the crash indicates the first driver was issued a citation, but the only reference to the hit-and-run is in the narrative section, which says a witness mentioned the truck fleeing northbound. He speculated that one reason the responding officers might not have forwarded the report to MAIU might have been conflicting testimony from bystanders.

Alternately, there might have been an initial indication that Valenta’s injuries, while described on the report as “serious,” weren’t critical enough to warrant notifying MAIU, O’Brien said. Valenta suffered a fractured skull, broken shoulder blades and pelvis, 23 cracked ribs and a punctured lung. Keating hopes to recover damages from both drivers to cover the steep medical bills for Valenta, who is uninsured.

Keating said he talked with the 14th District police headquarters yesterday. “They could not explain why MAIU was not called nor why a report had not been [forwarded to MAIU],” he said. He also spoke yesterday with an officer at MAIU who told him they have contacted the 14th District and are launching an investigation of Valenta’s crash. “However, we now have lost almost two weeks because of this delay and only have the Citibank footage because of my legal work,” Keating said.

The law firm also contacted First Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno’s office about the crash going unreported to MAIU. “We emailed [14th District] Commander [Frank] Valadez about the issue and we’re waiting to hear back from him,” said First Ward communications director Matt Bailey this afternoon.

Post edited at 3 p.m. on on 2/22/13 to indicate that the responding officers did complete the Illinois Crash Report on February 8, although MAIU was not notified of the crash and the report was not forwarded to MAIU, per Officer Daniel O’Brien.