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CPD knows owner of car whose driver killed Ulysses Coleman, 38, Sunday in Austin, but hasn’t filed charges

Hopefully the police department will use all legal methods available to identify and charge the motorist who killed Coleman.

The intersection of North and Latrobe avenues, where Coleman was struck, looking east. Image: Google Maps

Tragically, a sedan driver struck and killed pedestrian Ulysses Coleman, 38, near North and Laramie avenues in Austin before the motorist fled the scene. This was at least the 18th person killed by a driver while on foot on Chicago streets this year, and the 11th vulnerable road use fatally struck by a hit-and-run motorist. To make matters worse, the crash report says the Chicago Police Department knows where the owner of the car whose driver fatally stuck Coleman lives, but no charges have been filed.

According to the initial CPD statement, Coleman was struck by the eastbound driver of a silver sedan on the 5200 block of West North Avenue (1600 N.) on Sunday, August 20 at around 12:55 a.m. The motorist stopped momentarily after the crash, but then left the scene.

Coleman suffered body injuries and was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 1:35 a.m.

Image of the collision from the crash report. We've flipped the image to make it easier to compare with the aerial view, below.

The CPD crash report provides more info on what reportedly happened. "[The] victim was attempting to cross North Avenue southbound outside the crosswalk," it states. It's worth noting the the image suggests Coleman was trying to cross at Latrobe Avenue (5230 W.), and Latrobe jogs east-west here He may have been crossing via the "unmarked crosswalk," where the sidewalk on the west side of Latrobe leads into the street.

Aerial view of North/Latrobe where the driver struck Coleman. He may have been crossing in the "unmarked crosswalk" on the west side of Latrobe.

After the driver struck Coleman, "he was forced into the air and flew about 10 feet away from where he was," the report says. It adds that the incident was captured by a Police Observation Device camera.

The report states that one witness, who said she had known Coleman for years, told responding officers she was in an argument with him before the crash, and he was walking away from her at the time of the time of the collision.

Another witness said he saw the crash and provided the driver's license plate number to the officers, according to the report. A second person in his car attempted to perform CPR on Coleman.

The hit-and-run driver is described on the report as a man, 50, wearing an orange reflective vest.

The vehicle's license plate number is listed on the report. It is identified as a silver 2020 Volkswagen Passat sedan, which is not insured. The owner, a woman, is named, and her address is listed as being little over a mile west of the crash site. The name of the male driver who killed Coleman is "unknown."

Despite the police reportedly knowing which car was involved in the crash, and who owns it, no charges have been filed. "There is no one in custody and Area Five Detectives are investigating," a police spokesperson told Streetsblog today.

Nakari Campbell

This frustrating situation where police say they know who owns a car whose driver seriously injured or killed a person, but no one has been charged, is not uncommon. Last week, Streetsblog discussed how this happened with the case of Nakari Campbell, 17, who was critically injured by a hit-and-run motorist in Wicker Park on August 4. The crash report states that officers visited the car owner's home, but his mother told them he wouldn't talk with them. No charges have been filed.

"Having the license plate of the vehicle allows the police to easily identify the owner of the vehicle, but the driver could be different than the owner" noted pedestrian and bike injury attorney Michael Keating (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor.) "Even [if] the police have a clear suspect, just knowing who the owner is may not be enough to charge that person as the driver... This puts the police in a difficult spot. The family [of the victim] and the police truly need the public's help in providing additional video or other information positively identifying the driver."

Is there a way the police can get a warrant to force a car owner to tell them who was driving it the night of a crash? "No," Keating said. "The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution is explicit that no one has to speak to the police and potentially self-incriminate themselves... But the police could get a warrant to track GPS on the car or on the driver's phone and find out where they were going that night."

Hopefully the Chicago Police Department will use all legal methods available to identify and charge the drivers who killed Ulysses Coleman, and severely injured Nakari Campbell. 

Streetsblog Chicago Fatality Tracker

Pedestrian: 18

Bicyclist: 3

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data.

2023 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

2023 Chicago bike fatalities

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