Family of 17-year-old girl seriously hurt in Wicker Park hit-and-run sues car’s owner, blasts ‘empty promises’ from cops

Frustrated by what they say is a lack of transparency and urgency from Chicago police, the family of Nakari Campbell say they’ve had to take the investigation of the Aug. 4 crash into their own hands.

SHARE Family of 17-year-old girl seriously hurt in Wicker Park hit-and-run sues car’s owner, blasts ‘empty promises’ from cops
Video footage shows a driver striking Nakari Campbell near the intersection of Ashland Avenue and Division Street.

Video footage shows a driver of a red Mercedes C300 striking Nakari Campbell near Ashland Avenue and Division Street on Aug. 4.

C. Norris Law Group

The family of a 17-year-old girl who was seriously wounded in a hit-and-run in the Wicker Park neighborhood has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the car, though they say they do not know who was driving.

Frustrated by what they say is a lack of transparency and urgency from Chicago police, Nakari Campbell’s relatives say they’ve had to take the investigation of the Aug. 4 crash into their own hands.

“What the Chicago Police Department has done is they’ve given us empty promises,” the family’s attorney, Cierra Norris, said at a news conference Thursday outside police headquarters. “They have put a community alert on the website, and that is not enough.

“We filed [this suit] to get answers so that we could step into an investigatory process that the Chicago Police Department has refused to do.”

Campbell was walking in a marked crosswalk on Ashland Avenue, with the right of way, about 10:30 p.m., when she was hit by a Mercedes turning left onto Division Street, according to the complaint.

The speeding Mercedes then dragged Campbell along the pavement, the complaint states.

Video from the scene shows Campbell’s body flying from the Mercedes as it speeds away, leaving her in the middle of the street.

“Can anybody just imagine their daughters, their sons being dragged half a mile?” Campbell’s mother, Imari Bibbs, asked reporters Thursday. “She was supposed to be walking to Wendy’s, and she got dragged to Wendy’s. How can anyone be OK with that?”

Campbell suffered multiple fractured ribs, head trauma, facial fractures and a broken bone in her neck, according to the traffic crash report. She was placed in a medically induced coma as a result of her injuries.

Campbell has awakened from the coma but remains hospitalized, according to the family’s lawyer.

The driver of the red Mercedes, a 2008 C300, is unknown but the family has sued the owner.

Police tried to contact the owner of the Mercedes after the crash, but his mother answered the door and told officers her son did not want to speak with them, according to the traffic report.

Campbell’s family and attorneys said they have taken it upon themselves to canvass the owner’s neighborhood, putting up thousands of community alerts.

“We as a family got together, with this law group, got together and put boots on the ground, going door to door,” Campbell’s uncle, Anthony Hargrove, told reporters. “We did our due diligence to seek answers.”

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Nakari Campbell, 17, is known as Sunshine to family members.

C. Norris Law Group

The lawsuit alleges the owner of the Mercedes negligently allowed his car to be driven by someone without “due care and caution.” The lawsuit also states the owner should have known the driver would operate the car in a reckless manner.

The lawyers did not rule out the possibility that the owner himself was behind the wheel, but they say they have kept the language purposely broad in the lawsuit. The car was never reported stolen, according to the family’s lawyers, which leads them to believe it was either the owner or someone he knew behind the wheel.

Campbell, whom family refer to as Sunshine, was preparing to enter her senior year of high school this fall.

“This is her senior year, we’re talking about a young lady entering her senior year with fractures and injuries to her head, loss of her hair. ... So think about that,” Hargrove said. “Senior high school girls look forward to their senior pictures, they’re looking forward to senior events. However, she’s trying to remember things again, learn how to rewalk and recognize faces.”

Chicago police said they had no comment because it remains an “open and active investigation.”

The family of Nakari Campbell holds a press conference outside of City of Chicago Public Safety Headquarters.

The family of Nakari Campbell holds a news conference Thursday outside of City of Chicago Public Safety Headquarters.

Sophie Sherry/Sun-Times

Norris told reporters police have reached out to her firm for a possible meeting, but they do not know the nature of what would be discussed.

“They knocked on the door. They said, ‘Sorry, we tried,’ and they thought that we were going to forget about Nakari and we’re not,” Norris said. “We’re going to continue to say her name. We’re going to continue to put feet on the ground. And we’re going to continue to showcase that civilians should not have to do the job of the police.”

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