By jeff gallatin
City officials said no local charges will be filed against a Cleveland man in his 50s who turned himself in last May after seeing media coverage of the death of 15-year-old North Olmsted High School student Malik Adams. Adams was struck by a vehicle on a dark portion of Brookpark Road around 11:30 p.m. on May 2.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury in January issued a no true bill, meaning it declined to indict on any criminal charges. Noting the grand jury decision, North Olmsted law Director Michael Gareau said the city reviewed the matter, turned its monthslong investigation over to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office and is not filing any local charges.
“It (the county grand jury) found no probable cause,” he said. “There are no local charges to be filed.”
Gareau said the city had conducted a thorough investigation along with the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office and the county prosecutor’s office.
North Olmsted Detective Sgt. Bob Wagner said the department is satisfied with its investigation and said hundreds of man hours had been put on the case by the city police, coroner’s office and county prosecutor. He noted the grand jury had made the decision not make any criminal charges after all the evidence was presented to it.
Kent Bowden, the boyfriend of Adams’ mother and spokesman for the family, Friday continued to question how the investigation was handled.
“They took eight and a half months and they dragged their feet on this,” he said. “They should have arrested and charged him right away when he turned himself in after the accident.”
A review of the 82-page investigation report by West Life showed multiple officers and agencies involved for many months in the investigation. After finding DNA evidence that it was Adams’ blood on the hood of the Cleveland man’s truck, officers took the truck as evidence. Documents showed the police department conducted a late-night re-enactment of the incident on a September night, which it believes closely approximated the weather and lighting conditions on May 2.
Investigation report documents indicated officials thought the driving test showed the driver likely would not have been able to stop in time to avoid hitting Adams, who other tests showed had been running or jogging across the roadway. Other reports showed large amounts of alcohol in Adams’ system from a bottle of vodka officials said he and a teenage male friend drank after the other boy took it from Wal-Mart.
Other toxicology reports showed the Cleveland man had three drinks and three shots in about three and a half hours at the Sly Fox Lounge, where his girlfriend worked. The toxicologist factored in the man’s age, height and weight and said the man was not intoxicated when he then left the bar. Going out afterward onto the roadway, he struck Adams with his truck, but said he thought then, and repeatedly told police later, he had struck a deer with the truck, drove off and said he went home.
After seeing the media coverage of the accident and Adams’ death, the man told police he came to the conclusion he had struck Adams. He called police and spoke with an attorney. After several days, he turned himself in and was questioned by police with his attorney present.
Bowden said much of his contention that police dragged their feet stems from his belief that the Cleveland man had been drinking at other bars before going to the Sly Fox, that police did not establish this in the investigation and that officials did not consider it a factor when trying to determine whether the man was intoxicated. He also reiterated that he believes the man should have been arrested and charged after turning himself in.
He also alleges that saying Malik had been drinking alcohol is a smokescreen by officials. He also said that Malik’s mother is a good mother who had dropped her son off at school that morning, and disputes some people’s allegations that she should have been taking care of Malik. He said she is a factory shift worker who was on a different shift that week.
“We are following up on this and will continue to,” he said.
He said an early May rally is being planned at the accident site to honor Malik and continue to bring attention to the incident. He said he also still wants to get legislation seeking automatic charges against anyone leaving the scene of an accident.