I-TEAM: Cleveland police begin hit-skip investigation 2 years after crash

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CLEVELAND — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found a family just got a stunning call from Cleveland Police as a detective only now is starting to look into a crime that happened more than two years ago.

A hit-and-run driver caused thousands of dollars in damage to a vehicle in 2017, but the family of the victim got the first call from police just the other day.

Shadi Taha said, “My mother, she received a phone call asking if she was involved in a hit-and-run. She thought it was a prank.”

He added, “When I called him back, I was in shock that they’re just getting to it two years later.”

The hit and run happened near West 110th Street and Lorain. Witnesses captured cell phone video of the hit-skip driver and got a license plate. It took place right outside a bank, so likely, the incident was also recorded on security cameras.

The family had immediately filed a police report. So, no one expected such a long wait for justice.

“With all that information, and they’re just calling us back to see what happened over two years ago?" said Taha.

This case brings up a problem the I-TEAM first exposed in 2015. For years, Cleveland Police have been years behind in investigating hit-skip crashes. Every time we checked, we found only one or two detectives assigned for thousands of cases. So we’re asking has nothing changed?

Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said, “We do not have a backlog for serious crashes.”

She says accident investigators handle the most serious crashes, first.

Police say they’re taking new steps to start to try to catch up on the others, but so many new cases keep coming in day after day.

Ciaccia said, “We have recently increased the staffing in the Hit-Skip Unit, but they’re always going to have some kind of backlog.”

The victims in this case have given up on getting justice. They say their insurance had to cover thousands of dollars in repair costs. They simply hope Cleveland police does better than starting investigations after two years.

Maybe, hit-and-run crashes with no one hurt are cases that don’t seem that significant. But to the people involved, they are.

Shadi Taha added, “I hope that they look into this and they realize this is a huge issue.”

Sgt. Ciaccia also said, in many of these cases, detectives have very little evidence to use for follow-up investigating.

But Taha points out, again, this case had cell phone video, a suspect license plate and more.

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