Left for dead

Left for Dead: Family of teen injured in hit-and-run sues car owner, criticizing Chicago police ‘inaction'

A second lawsuit alleges the same Mercedes was involved in a separate hit-and-run crash minutes later, just a few blocks away

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Warning: Some of the video is graphic and disturbing. NBC 5 felt it necessary to show, in order to illustrate how serious these incidents are.

The family of a 17-year-old girl severely injured in a hit-and-run crash has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the vehicle that hit her, taking their search for justice to court as they say Chicago police have not done enough to solve her case. Meanwhile, a second lawsuit filed this month alleges that same vehicle was involved in a second hit-and-run that injured another woman minutes later, just a few blocks away.

Known to her family and friends as “Sunshine,” Nakari Campbell is a high school senior who dreams of one day studying law.

On Aug. 4, Nakari was crossing Division Street at Ashland Avenue in Wicker Park when a red Mercedes turned left and hit her in the crosswalk. The car dragged her half a block before the driver sped off. She suffered a head injury and multiple broken bones and remains in critical condition at a rehab facility.

“Senior high school girls, they look forward to their senior pictures. They're looking forward to senior events,” Nakari’s uncle Anthony Hargrove said Thursday. “However, she's trying to remember things again, learn how to read and walk.”

According to the crash report obtained by NBC 5 Investigates, witnesses at the scene immediately gave the vehicle’s license plate number to Chicago police. That report says officers went to the home of the car’s registered owner, but were told by his mother that he refused to speak with them. Attempts to reach the owner of the Mercedes were not successful.

“Who's going to be held accountable for what happened to Nakari Campbell, if the police won't even use the powers that we've given them to do so?,” asked Cierra Norris, an attorney representing Nakari’s family. “They could bring this driver in. They could ask questions, they could interrogate.”

CPD sent out a community alert with a photo of the car and its license plate. But now, roughly four weeks later, Nakari’s family said police have given them no updates on the case and they haven’t heard from investigators since the day after the crash.

In a statement, CPD said Thursday that no one was in custody in connection with the crash, there were no updates to share and the investigation remained ongoing.

“This case is active and ongoing and we will continue to seek justice on behalf of this victim,” CPD added. A spokesman for the department did not respond when asked about Nakari’s family’s assertion that police had not contacted them in weeks.

Now, the family has filed a lawsuit against the car’s registered owner to collect evidence themselves as they seek justice for the injured teen.

“We filed suit to get answers so that we could step into an investigatory process that Chicago Police Department has refused to do,” Norris said. Court documents show Norris’ office has filed subpoenas to the Illinois Secretary of State as well as Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications for records and evidence related to the crash.

“There are so many things that they could have done, and it’s their inaction that is truly worrisome and concerning,” Norris said of CPD, adding that Nakari’s family has canvassed the area, knocking on doors and handing out fliers to try and help the case progress.

Another lawsuit filed this month alleges that same car was involved in another hit-and-run five minutes later, just a few blocks away on Augusta Blvd just east of Ashland Avenue.

Chloe Engel’s attorney said she was in town with a friend and her father to attend Lollapalooza when they were hit. Footage from a nearby security camera shows a red sedan sideswipe a rideshare minivan, leaving Engel with broken ribs and cuts to her face. Her lawsuit alleges the same Mercedes owner is responsible.

Nakari’s family on Thursday called on the person responsible for the crash that injured the teen to turn themselves in, and urged Chicago police to take action to solve her case.

“They get to decide who gets justice and who doesn't. And the question here is why not Nakari? Why doesn’t Nakari get justice?,” Norris asked. ‘You have videos, you have twenty witnesses. Why not Nakari? Who made the decision that she wasn't going to get justice? Who made the decision that she wasn't even going to get an investigation?”

“To not even try is a slap in the face to this family, it’s a slap in the face to the community and it's a slap in the face to the taxpayers who pay such a large budget with the expectation to be protected and served,” she added.

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