About five years ago, I was in bed at my condo around midnight when I heard a car crash. Immediately I knew this was pretty bad. First, I could see the fire truck lights within seconds of the crash. We live beside a fire station and the firemen didn't even wait for the formalities of getting the 911 dispatch. The truck went north going against traffic on a one-way street. This meant that traffic would be restricted. They don't block lanes for fender benders.
The second thing that tipped me off this was bad was the screaming of what I thought was a bystander. I could hear the Doppler effect as he ran screaming by my window and then continued down the street. It didn't seem right. I'd later learn that the guy screaming was the boyfriend of the crash victim.
The third thing that alerted me was that when I looked out the window to see the crash, there were no cars. I've seen crashes before on that block and there was always a car on the scene. I've seen two cars smash the shit out of each other. I've also seen the result of a car jumping the curb and hitting a light pole. But always there was a car around to gawk at. At this wreck, there was no car around.
The last thing I saw that clinched the graveness of the situation was seeing a mangled barely-alive body on the street between the boundary of the condo building and the fire station. I couldn't get a clear view of the injured man, but I saw enough. A stream of blood trickled from his body down the street and ran down the curb into the drain. I looked up the street and saw a pair of shoes. The car hitting the injured man knocked the guy out of his shoes and propelled him over 100ft down the street. This isn't the script for the movie-of-the-week or an after-school special. Despite the prompt response by paramedics, the man died.
I realized the 'crash' I heard was actually a car knocking the shit out of a pedestrian. I wasn't able to get to sleep until a few hours later. I later talked to a neighbor who had a birds-eye view of the scene since he was higher up with a better view. The grizzly details imprinted even deeper in his mind than my own. One word we both used to describe our reaction to the death: numb.
The driver who hit the guy had driven off. Technically it was a hit-and-run. About 30 minutes later, the driver did return to the scene of the crime and spoke to the police. He said the pedestrian was jay-walking. This was true. The shoes were in the middle of the block over a 100 feet from the nearest crosswalk. Everything else this man must have said was a big crock of shit.
The driver claimed he was only going the speed limit: 35 mph. There is no way in hell a car going 35 mph can knock a grown man over 100ft. It's a goddamn lie. I've been on that road hundreds of times and have seen the assholes barreling down going well over 50 mph. True, this is irrelevant, but the guy was propelled over 100ft from the site of impact.
There was also the matter of the guy leaving the crash. That alone should have brought him some charge. I looked up the guy's name on the NC DOC website, and at the time of the crash, he was on probation. It was after midnight, that alone was most likely a probation violation.
Then there was a matter of why he left. I can only speculate. The guy had been convicted of gun and drug charges. My guess is that he didn't want to get caught red-handed with something illegal so he dumped whatever he shouldn't have had and returned to the crash site.
Bottom line: The guy was never charged with anything since he said he wasn't speeding and the pedestrian was jaywalking.
How would things have turned out if instead of a drunk gay guy getting killed at night it was a city worker or a church goer who got killed at night instead?
City workers and church goers jaywalk all the fucking time on Dawson Street, and will give you attitude if you seemed irritated, and they will stare you down daring you to do something. I wondered how things would have turned out if the pedestrian had not been a gay guy killed but a member of John Edward's church at the Edenton Street Methodist Church just a few blocks up the street. Deep down, I don't think the cops would have let an ex-con on parole get away without charging him with something. There would have been outrage and demands for action.
I also wondered what would have happened if the driver had hit a city worker on the same street where these guys frequently jaywalk. These guys are notorious for crossing the street where ever they feel like it and goddamn forbid if you honk your horn at them. Yet these are the same assholes who would not yield to me and my dog when we were in the crosswalk and had the light.
No, I think things would have turned out differently had the pedestrian been a city worker or from the same congregation at John Edward's church. It was all I could do to confront the DA about that incident and have them explain their inaction.
I really wanted to tell them the hypotheticals I just described. In essence it was like having open-season on drunk queers in Raleigh.
The guy's name was Chad Everett Reece.