Chicago police are far more likely to stop investigating a hit-and-run than to solve it, Records Show – NBC Chicago

Chicago police are far more likely to stop investigating a hit-and-run accident than to solve it, records show – leaving victims in the dark even in cases with seemingly obvious clues.

In the case of an accident that left a couple seriously injured, the Chicago police suspended their investigation despite several solid leads – and without even telling the victims.

Around 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night 2019, Al and Colleen Carro were driving on Irving Park Road near O’Hare Airport when they were hit by a car that ran a red light on Seymour Avenue.

“I didn’t see what hit us. I didn’t even know what happened,” Al Carro recalled. “All I remember is the firefighter waking me up and telling me to turn my head because he had to get us out of the car.”

Surveillance video of the crash obtained by NBC 5 Investigates shows a ghostly figure emerging from the second car, driving past the Carros and into the night – leaving the car behind.

“I can’t believe with the car, they’re not going to get someone. They’ve got the car!” said Al Carro.

On the evening of the accident, Chicago police filed an accident report identifying the two owners of the other car. NBC 5 is not naming the owners because they have not been charged with any foul play.

Records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show that a month after the accident, one of the owners was arrested after failing to appear in court with an unrelated ticket. The arrest report shows Chicago police took his cellphone as evidence, but for some reason it took them two months to apply for a warrant to search the device — a request denied by the district attorney’s office. Cook County State.

Emails obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show that police also requested assistance from federal immigration officials, who informed them when the car’s second owner booked a flight to Mexico. CPD planned to be at Midway International Airport to arrest the owner before he could board the plane. But still, two and a half years later, no arrests.

“It looks like they had multiple opportunities to catch the person who did this to us, but they did absolutely nothing,” Colleen Carro said.

Why do Chicago police solve so few hit-and-runs, even when they receive an overwhelming amount of evidence? Reporting by Phil Rogers of NBC 5 Investigates.

The Carros – who each spent more than a month in hospital due to the severity of their injuries – said police told them as recently as last fall that investigators were still awaiting DNA test results. of the Illinois State Police.

But NBC 5 Investigates discovered that CPD already had the final report in hand months before, indicating the test was inconclusive.

The couple said the police would not let them see the video of the accident and did not share these details with them about their case. And they didn’t know until NBC 5 Investigates told them that CPD had suspended the investigation into the crash, less than six months after it happened.

“Every time there’s an accident, I can’t help but wonder if that’s the person who hit us,” Colleen Carro said. “They could have killed someone else now.”

Records show the Carros are far from alone.

NBC 5 Investigates filed a public record request asking the Chicago Police Department for the status of each investigation into the city’s most serious hit-and-run crashes — those that resulted in death or debilitating injury — during for the past 10+ years.

The data shows the CPD has suspended or no longer actively investigating about four of the city’s five most serious unsolved hit-and-runs.

Chicago police classify a case as “suspended” when they believe “all avenues of investigation” have been “fully pursued” and “the case can proceed no further”. They also file investigations without arrest when “circumstances beyond the control of law enforcement prevent the charge”, according to the CPD.

Among the most serious hit-and-runs from 2015 to this year, Chicago police made arrests in 9.4% of cases — but stopped actively investigating 83.9% of those crashes.

Compare that to the New York Police Department, which solved 34.7% of serious hit-and-runs during the same period, while suspending less than a quarter of its investigations.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the older cases the CPD is filing: Chicago police have already stopped investigating 85.9% of serious and fatal hit-and-runs in the last year alone, while proceeding with arrests in only 2.3% of cases. In 2021, the NYPD made arrests in 25.8% of their most serious cases – a rate 10 times higher than the Chicago police.

Chicago police have refused repeated requests for an interview about the crash that injured the Carros, the speed at which the CPD is suspending investigations, and their low rate of resolution of hit-and-runs in general.

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