Hit-and-Run Driver Kills South LA Community Activist

Hit-and-Run Driver Kills South LA Community Activist

December 24, 2022

Police have no leads after a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a prominent community activist as she dropped off Christmas gifts for children at a community center.

Witnesses say the 61-year-old victim was crossing the street near the intersection of Broadway and 88th Street on Christmas Eve afternoon. “I was trying to run through the yellow tape to her. I just couldn’t believe what I heard over the phone,” the victim’s daughter said. “She helped everybody she gave back to the community in every way she could. She’s a good person. Whoever did this needs to step up and turn yourself in,” her daughter added. 

Police did not provide a vehicle description. Family members hope security cameras in the area will help bring the driver to justice.

Criminal vs. Civil Court

Unless they get a major break very quickly, like a voluntary confession from a remorseful hit-and-run driver, police officers quickly drop hit-and-run investigations. Without such a major break, the burden of proof in criminal court, which is beyond any reasonable doubt, is simply too high.

Basically, prosecutors cannot obtain convictions unless they have overwhelming evidence. In this context, that probably means an eyewitness or surveillance camera that got a good look at the car, and the driver, at the time of the crash. If officers had such evidence, there wouldn’t have been an investigation in the first place.

The burden of proof (a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not) is much lower in civil court. Typically, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney must only track down the owner to obtain compensation. More on that below.

The purpose of criminal court is different as well. Criminal courts punish offenders. Civil courts compensate victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in some extreme cases.

Tracking Down the Tortfeasor

Frequently, a witness or camera gets a general description of the vehicle and a digit or two of a license plate number. This evidence wouldn;t hold up in criminal court. But it usually will hold up in civil court. The proof itself is enough to locate the vehicle’s owner. It’s more likely than not that the owner was driving a vehicle at any given time. 

Furthermore, an attorney isn’t limited to evidence at the scene. Investigator surveillance (a stakeout) is a good example. Most people drive basically the same routes basically every day. So, if a dark sedan was at the corner of 88th Street and Broadway on Christmas Eve, it will probably come around again. If that happens, the investigator can get a full license plate number, making it even easier for a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to locate the owner.Vehicle collisions usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Credit: Photo on Freepik

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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