Home Local ‘Slap in the face’: Family of teen injured in Wicker Park hit-and-run demand answers from Chicago police

‘Slap in the face’: Family of teen injured in Wicker Park hit-and-run demand answers from Chicago police

by staff

The family of a 17-year-old girl who was critically injured in a hit-and-run in Wicker Park earlier this month is suing the alleged owner of the vehicle, alleging that he “negligently” allowed an unknown driver to operate his vehicle, and calling on Chicago police to take a more active role in the investigation.

“The lack of investigation for this young Black teen — we’ve seen this so many times. It truly showcases that our taxpayer dollars are going toward an entity who gets to pick and choose who gets justice and who doesn’t,” the family’s attorney, Cierra Norris, said at a Thursday news conference outside Police Department headquarters.

The car’s alleged owner, a Belmont Cragin resident, has not been charged. In a statement, Chicago Police Department spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said no one is in custody and that “detectives are still investigating” the hit-and-run that left Nakari Campbell with fractured ribs, head trauma, facial fractures and a broken bone in her neck.

According to a crash report, the driver of a bright red 2008 Mercedes-Benz hit Campbell at about 10:25 p.m. on Aug. 4 while she was crossing Division Street at Ashland Avenue. Police said the driver fled westbound on Division Street at a high speed after hitting Campbell. The car has dark-colored rims, a sunroof, tinted windows and an Illinois license plate. Police said they expect damage at or near the car’s grille.

Campbell’s lawyers shared a graphic video on Thursday, showing the moment she was hit by the car. It shows her being dragged on the street and a few people running out to stop the flow of traffic and check on her.

Following the hit-and-run, Campbell was transported to Stroger Hospital in critical condition. Since then, the teen’s uncle Anthony Hargrove said, Campbell is at home recovering from her injuries. He called her a “bright” girl who is entering her senior year of high school and hopes to become a lawyer. Her nickname is Sunshine, he added.

“She’s sad and upset, again this is her senior year. We’re talking about a high school young lady entering her senior year with fractures and injuries to her head, loss of her hair,” Hargrove said. “Senior high school girls, they’re looking forward to their senior pictures, they’re looking forward to senior events. However, she’s trying to remember things again and learn how to read and walk, and recognize faces.”

Hargrove said he wants transparency from the police, saying they should use their resources and finances to get justice for Campbell. He said the family and their lawyers have already done their “due diligence to seek answers,” including filing the lawsuit, protesting and going door to door to pass out flyers of the community alert.

“We work every day to figure out answers,” he said. “We’re on the ground every single day trying to get answers for her, trying to get justice for Nakari.  ”According to the crash report, officers tried to contact the owner of the vehicle. The report said when they went to his home, his mother answered the door and “stated that her son refused to speak with the police.”

Norris said the police haven’t tried hard enough to get a confession from the driver, saying their inaction is a “slap in the face to this family.” She said, for example, the police could run the license plate through red-light cameras to track the car.

“That’s how they find out whether you’re speeding. That’s how they find out whether you owe them money for a red light ticket,” she said.

Norris said she doesn’t know for sure if the owner of the car is the same person driving it when Campbell was hit, but that they “have absolutely no information that would give us any reason to believe that that vehicle was stolen.” She said the police have reached out to her associates about the incident, but that they haven’t scheduled a meeting.

“I’m not sure if it’s to move forward the investigation so much as to explain why they’re not able to have one,” she said. “I’d like them to take those efforts instead of sitting down with me to get out in the streets.”

About five minutes after Campbell was hit, a 26-year-old woman was struck by a car nearby in the 1400 block of West Augusta Avenue while exiting from a vehicle’s driver-side rear door, according to the crash report. The woman’s father told police that they were passengers in a ride-share vehicle and were parked and pulled over to the right side of the road at their destination in West Town when they were sideswiped, the report said. They told police that the driver fled the scene.

At the news conference, Campbell’s mother asked people to imagine if it was their family member who was injured.

“Anybody just imagine their daughter, their son being dragged half a mile,” Imari Bibbs said. “How can any one of us be OK with that? We’re not, and we won’t be.”

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