A Botched Investigation and Unanswered Questions

Posted by: Wed, Jan 23, 2008

It has been two years to the day that our son was hit and killed by (in our opinion) an at fault driver. This post is about how three different police departments botched up the investigation.

Dustin was considered at fault before the departments even started investigating. The final disposition contradicts the witnesses’ statements including the driver. Time frames do not match up and very little “investigating” was done. The Township Police Chief Mr. Green said in a statement to the Saginaw News early that morning before Dustin’s name was even released

“The biker was likely trying to cross from the southwest side of Dixie to the northeast side”.

Our Son Dustin The article also states that they did not even know if he was walking or riding his bike so how could they say it was his fault already. All three local news stations also stated in their first reports of the accident that it was Dustin’s fault. No one even gave him a chance, except us, his parents. This is our chance to try and clear Dustin’s name and expose the blind investigating of our local police departments. I will touch on key points in the investigation with complete witnesses’ statements. The only thing that will be different from the original report is the name of the boy that was with our son.

Arrival On The Scene:

Officer Flemming – I observed what appeared to be feathers in the area of the turn lane. I observed both North and south bound traffic to be suddenly stopping……I observed a vehicle stopped directly in front of the unknown object. I activated my emergency lights and turned the patrol vehicle to block the left hand lane of southbound traffic. I realized the unknown object to be a person. I advised Central Dispatch. I observed Township Fire Chief Nelson to be stopped in his vehicle in the right hand lane of southbound Dixie. I observed the vehicle that had been stopped in front of the victim had now moved approximately 100 feet south of where I had first observed it. (Why did the driver move the vehicle after the police arrived? No one ever asked!)

While assessing the victim I observed a shoe and a pair of glasses approximately 200 feet north of the victim.

Officers Actions:

Officer Flemming – ….While moving my patrol car I observed a white male, approximately 15 years old walking northbound on north side of Dixie. I observed the male to be wearing a red and silver jacket. (This is important because for us the lighting has been a major issue in this investigation. The officer was able to see the boy walking on the other side of the highway and even in the “dark” conditions she was able to tell what color coat he had on. “This boy” was with our son at the time he was hit and was walking to find our other son to tell him.)

Lighting:

Officer Flemming– Original police report stated that the area was dark with no lighting.

Investigation Report– States At the time of the accident it was dark.

COMPLETELY FALSE!

The premise of the investigation was that Dustin was wearing dark clothing on a black bicycle on a dark highway, therefore the driver could not see him. Yet as you read the witnesses statement at least two other drivers seen him, the Fire Chief seen his body in the rear view mirror, and Officer Flemming was able to see his glasses and shoe 200 feet away. We drive this road every morning there are street lights on both sides of the highway every fifty feet, and flood lights in front of The State Police Post where the impact happened. You are able to see at least a half a mile down the road. The morning of the accident we watched Dustin ride his bike across Dixie Highway from our house, which is a block away and we were still able to see him when he entered the sidewalk.

 

Witnesses Statements:

“Dave” The Boy with our son

…I interviewed “Dave” at his residence…with his father present at the interview. “Dave” was visibly shaken and upset. I asked “Dave” to tell me what happened this morning. “Dave” stated that he left his residence on Williamson towards Dixie. …“Dave” stated that after he got to Dixie he stayed close to the right side of the road. “Dave” stated that he met Dustin about Franklin and Dixie. “Dave” stated they continued south on Dixie.
Dustin
“Dave” stated that after they passed through the intersection a car passed them. “Dave” then stated that Dustin almost got hit by the car. “Dave” stated that he yelled to Dustin to stay closer to him, towards the right side of the road. “Dave” stated that he thinks Dustin thinks he said to move closer to the center of the road. “Dave” stated that Dustin said ok. “Dave” stated that Dustin was listening to Disturbed on his headphones. “Dave stated that Dustin then got hit by the Tahoe. I asked “Dave” where Dustin was he got hit. He stated closer to the State Police Post than Margaret Street.

I asked “Dave” again where Dustin was when he got hit. “Dave” Stated that Dustin was in the lane closest to the turn lane. “Dave” stated that he was closer to the State Police Post then he was to Margaret. “Dave” was extremely shaken up. It became extremely difficult for him to answer questions.

( Dave kept saying the location because the driver drug our son down the road after she hit him. She did not stop right away. He does say that Dustin was almost hit by a car before he moves towards the center of the road, I will go into detail about that after Ms. Dixon’s Statement. “Dave” has also provided more details since this time, now that he has had time to deal with the pain. I will also go over this at the end in the conclusion)

Ms. Dixon – …I interviewed Ms. Dixon at her residence…I asked Dixon to tell me what happened this morning. Dixon stated she was on her way to work. …She takes Fort Rd. To Dixie to I-75…this morning she turned south on Dixie from Fort Rd. Dixon stated that the light was green.

Dixon stated immediately after she turned she observed two males on bikes. Dixon stated that they were in the right hand lane closest to the curb. …they were riding next to each other. Dixon stated that one of the males moved closer to the center of the road. Dixon stated that he rode his bike in front of her car. Dixon stated he was in the left hand lane.

…she wanted them to know she was there . ….she flashed her head lights ..then went slow passed them…in the right hand lane.

Dixon stated that all off a sudden and SUV was behind her. Dixon stated that she did not notice the SUV until after it had passed. Dixon stated that the SUV was in the left hand lane. Dixon stated that she heard a noise. Dixon stated that she realized it was the bike under the front of the SUV. I asked Dixon how she could tell and she stated that she could hear the rubber from the tires of the bike dragging on the road. Dixon stated that when she heard the noise she observed the lights of the SUV swerve over….to the left. Dixon stated she was worried because she did not know where the kids were at.

(Ms. Dixon does not state that she almost hit Dustin, she says that he rode his bike in front of her car. This is contradictory to the final report. She says that “all of a sudden” an SUV is behind her. Where did it come from and how did it get there? No one asked. Ms. Dixon also sees the lights swerve to the left I will go into that in the conclusion.)

Fire Chief Nelson

Nelson stated he was traveling Northbound Dixie Highway, just south of Margaret coming from McDonald’s…Nelson observed a subject riding a bicycle along the curb of Southbound Dixie…the subject was north of Margaret…this subject was not peddling or moving fast, but slowing and it appeared like he was looking for something. Chief Nelson advised he observed an SUV type vehicle that was traveling Southbound Dixie in the median most lane, make a slight maneuver towards the turn lane. Nelson stated that he then observed some debris in the roadway and then heard a crashing noise like the SUV vehicle had run over something.

Chief Nelson advised he stopped his vehicle at the entrance to Margaret and observed in his rear view mirror what appeared to be a body coming out from underneath the SUV that had just passed him on Southbound Dixie.

(Chief Nelson was able to see Dave from 100 yards away, he is also able to see Dustin in his rear view mirror. If it is so dark how can all these witnesses see so much? Nelson also says he sees the vehicle make a “maneuver” to the left turn lane, this is important.)

Terry Williamson

Williamson advised he was traveling northbound Dixie, south of Fort Rd. Williamson said he observed two boys on bicycles riding in the turn lane of Dixie between Gobyens’s and the Fire Department….He advised he was only able to see these two boys because they were riding under the street lights of Dixie. Williamson stated while observing these two bicycles, he observed they left the turn lane, rode to the left side of Dixie, then back across to the curb along south Dixie. The Bicyclists then again crossed Dixie to the curb and entered the driveway of Stoney Crest Regrind.

Williamson advised at this point during his observation, he was stopped for the traffic signal at northbound Dixie and Fort Rd. I asked Williamson if one of the boys had been wearing a read and white coat. Williamson advised he only remembers both boys had on dark clothing and was not sure of the exact colors. Williamson further states that he would not have been able to see the boys if the street lights were not on. Williamson advised while the boys were crossing back and forth along Dixie there was no vehicular traffic North or South bound Dixie highway.

(He says that he sees the boys crossing between Gobyen’s and the Fire Department, that is four blocks away! He says that if the street lights were off he wouldn’t have seen the boys, THE STREET LIGHTS WERE ON AND ALL WORKING! Technically he only sees “Dave” until the boys enter the driveway of Stoney Crest Regrind, that is where Dustin crossed Dixie for the “snowy sidewalk”. MOST IMPORTANT, Williamson says there is no traffic north or south bound Dixie, so how did the SUV come up behind our son? No one asked!)

Inell Jackson – The Driver –

I asked Jackson where she was going this morning. Jackson stated she was driving her daughter “Jane” to the Saginaw Career Complex. Jackson advised she was traveling Southbound Dixie, in the median most lane. Jackson said that out of nowhere a boy in dark clothing was in front of the vehicle and before she could do anything the vehicle struck him. I asked Jackson if she has observed the victim prior to her vehicle striking him. Jackson said she never observed the victim until the vehicle struck him. Jackson said she believed that the victim crossed in front of her from the left Northbound lane. Upon impact the victim and bicycle went underneath the vehicle. Jackson said the victim never came up onto the hood. I asked Jackson if she stopped suddenly upon impacting the bicycle. Jackson said “no I didn’t make a sudden stop, it was a slow stop, I then moved forward, I think because he was underneath the truck.”

The officer asked the driver about the windows, radio, cell phone, her speed and if she observed any other bicycles before, during, or after the accident. Ms. Jackson said the windows were up, radio was on but low, no cell phone, she was driving about “35-40 MPH”, and she did not see any other bicycles.

(The most important fact that Ms. Jackson states is that she believed the victim came from the left. She does not see him until the vehicle strikes him, but still does not slam on the brakes. What is the first thing you do as a driver when you hit something, YOU HIT THE BRAKES! More on this at the end. They never asked her if she was running late, the place where she was going was at least 20 minutes away. She needed to be there at 7:00 am and the accident happened at 6:48 am. If she drives this area every morning to take her daughter to school she would have see the boys on at least one, if not several occasions before this day. They rode the same area at the same time everyday they had school.)

“Jane” – Drivers Daughter

I just want to add in here that “Jane” seen “Dave” riding his bike before they hit Dustin. She also states that the vehicle stopped slowly with no jerking or suddenness.

Speed Test:

Officer Green:

I was unable to determine a speed from the final resting position of the Tahoe, point of impact and final position of the body, because according to witnesses statements and interview of the driver, no sudden stop or braking occurred after impact. According to witnesses and the driver’s statement, the driver came to a slow gradual stop after impact. According to witness statements it appears the driver had originally been stopped on Dixie, SB at the traffic light at Dixie and Fort.

To make a long statement short it states that they ran 3 normal speed tests with the patrol car, from a complete stop at the light. Average speed 40 MPH at Point of impact. They ran 3 rapid speed tests, average of 58 MPH at point of impact, but said the Tahoe could not reach those speeds due to its weight. They determined speed was not a factor.

(What witnesses state that the driver was stopped at the light on Dixie Highway or even say they seen her before she hit our son? I put all the statements in this post, no one even mentions where the SUV came from. Mr. Williamson said there was no traffic on Dixie in either direction! Ms. Dixon says she turned on a green light from Fort Rd. Meaning if what these two witnesses say is true, the driver was not stopped at the red light.)

The Final Report:

This was finished and released on February 16, 2006. Almost a month later after the media reported it was Dustin’s fault.

After reviewing all the enclosed supplemental reports and interviews as well as the investigation scene, it appears that Dustin swerved into the path of the Tahoe, causing the accident. It should be noted that Dustin was nearly struck by one of the witnesses just prior to the accident and another witness had earlier seen Dustin and “Dave” just north of the accident scene riding their bikes back and forth across Dixie, just prior to the accident. Dustin did not have a headlight, taillight, a rear or front reflector on the bike.

Dustin was also wearing dark pants and a dark winter jacket at the time of the accident. From witnesses statements it appears that Dustin swerved from the right SB lane of Dixie into the left SB lane of Dixie when struck. The injuries to the left side of Dustin’s head concur with these statements. It should also be noted that Dustin was found to be wearing earphones and listening to music at the time of the accident. This would greatly interfere with Dustin’s ability to perceive or hear oncoming traffic. After review it appears that Dustin’s failure to yield the proper right of way, improper lane usage and failure to have lights, reflectors or reflective clothing, as well as his use of headphones all led to this very unfortunate accident.
wrestling
These are our thoughts and unanswered questions:

New information from “Dave” provided to us by “Dave” within the month following the accident.

“Dave” says that Dustin was riding the line between the southbound left hand lane and the center turn lane. The SUV came up behind him, and striking the back wheel of his bike, turning him and the bike to the right and pulling them underneath the vehicle. He also says that she was traveling fast and did not stop after hitting Dustin, he seen sparks from the point of impact to Margaret Street.

Things in the report that could support this.

Ms. Dixon says sees Dustin move toward the center lane in front of her car. She does not state that she almost hits him. Dustin is now to the left of her. And she slowly moves passed them. She then says that the SUV is “all of a sudden there” behind her and passes her as she hears a noise. She also says that she seen the lights of the SUV serve to the left, also supported by Chief Nelsons statement.

It may be possible that the SUV came up behind Dixon as she was going slow and darted around her into the left lane striking Dustin from behind.

No one asked Ms. Dixon how fast she was traveling that morning.

No one asked Ms. Jackson, the driver, questions about her morning, her normal routine. Was she on time or running late? If she traveled that road every morning at the same time she would have seen the boys at least once before that day and in all probability would have seen them on several occasions. Ms. Jackson and her daughter both state that Dustin was in front of them, they do not say he crossed in front of them. Ms. Jackson’s daughter states that she seen “Dave” riding his bike on the side of the road before hitting Dustin. Ms. Jackson states that Dustin came from the left northbound lane which is consistent with “Dave’s” new statement. Mr. Nelson states that he sees the lights of the SUV swerve to the left as does Ms. Dixon, we believe this occurred before the point of impact. There were gouge marks in the road from the SUV dragging the bicycle. The gouge marks are consistent with a movement to the right not left. The marks were on the road from point of impact and continue for many feet ahead. It is only logical that if she swerved after she hit Dustin the marks would at some point go to the left at which they do not. See the Field sketch.

Green paint was found on the inside front passenger tire and the front forks of the bike were painted green. Leading us to believe he was turned to the right as a result of the Tahoe hitting the back of the bike, consistent with what “Dave” says. The forks of the bike would have been facing the passenger side of the Tahoe when the bike went under. The final report is stating that the bike was facing the driver side. Another point that she should have seen him is if Dustin would have been riding sideways in front of her she would have seen the reflectors that were present in the rear tire spokes. The Green paint would have been on the inside of the driver side tire which it was not. She was obviously not paying attention if it was a surprise for her when she came up on our son and hit him. She did not even stop the vehicle after impact, she drug him for many feet before stopping. The only reason a sane person would not hit the brakes is if they did not see what they hit because they were not looking at the road right in front of them.

We are doing this because the investigation was horrible. They asked very few questions, how you investigate with no answers to important questions. Yes our son was wearing dark clothing, yes he was in the road (due to the sidewalks), yes he had on his headphones (which made it difficult to hear not see). Our son was carefree, but he was not stupid, he was just trying to get to school, he would not cross that highway without looking. The investigators took statements and then put them in their own words to support their theory. Ms. Jackson says Dustin came from the left, she is never asked further about this neither is her daughter. Ms. Dixon states that Dustin was in the far left hand lane when she passes him. Yet the final decision is he came from the right curb to the left and passed in front of the SUV. Totally contradictory! It is possible that if the accident happened the way “Dave” describes, Mrs. Jackson came up behind him and struck the back tire turning him to the right she would think he came from the left because of the way he was facing when he was engulfed under the vehicle.

The bottom line is our son was not totally at fault. The lawyers said that Mrs. Jackson had to be found at least 51% at fault, we believe this information supports that. Allstate insured a driver that was not paying attention and caused the death of our son they should at the least pay for his funeral. When two other eye witnesses said they seen our son that morning before the accident, and she did not that means she was not paying attention. He was traveling in front of her while she came up on him, how can this be disregarded?

In Memory of Dustin

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3 Responses to “A Botched Investigation and Unanswered Questions”

  1. master says:

    Feb. 4, 2008

    Wow, I agree with you, totally. To me, it’s obvious Jackson was going at least a little too fast, but more importantly, not looking in front of her. Which is what you have to do when you’re driving. Especially these days when there are so many distractions. Radio, chatter from passengers, billboards and others.

    Reminds me of the time a drunk driver hit my wife on the road and the cop gave her a citation for “failure to yeild”. I never did understand that. I’ve heard throughout my life, a lot of cops will simplify a case and look for a quick solution to the case by going for the easy answer. Instead of looking at the details in your son’s passing, they opted to wrap it up by saying, in summary, it was your son’s fault. No need to seek more evidence in their minds.

    Not only do you have to suffer with the pain of that horrible loss, but you’re dealing with the false conviction that your son was completely at fault. I understand your anger.

  2. Chad & Stacey says:

    Feb. 5, 2008

    It’s really sad that in this “great justice system” so much injustice to innocent people happens.

  3. Kids Injured in Hit and Run | Boiled Over says:

    Mar. 13, 2011

    […] since it stated in the police report that our son was at fault. This of course was not true and the investigation was botched due to a small town cover […]

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