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Loved ones push for justice, police identify person of interest in hit-and-run

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MADISON, Wis. – As the Madison Police Department releases dash cam and traffic camera footage of the scene of a hit-and-run Sunday, the loved ones of the victim are pushing for justice.

The incident early Sunday morning in which a driver of a truck hit and injured a woman sparked protests after the activist group Urban Triage posted on its Facebook page that it was a hate crime. In a post that’s now removed, Urban Triage said the driver was a white supremacist who intentionally hit a black woman in the street and that it took officers 30 minutes to arrive and get the victim aid.

Madison police released video footage Monday afternoon showing that it took a total of 14 minutes from time the woman was hit to the time the ambulance leaves the scene, assuming the crowd surging at the beginning of the video happens right after the hit and run.

The victim’s loved ones are pushing for justice, setting up a fundraiser in her honor to help with medical bills. Her friend since childhood, Sire, said when he heard the news of what happened, “I was infuriated. I was upset. I was angry. I was mad this was still going on, especially in my city and community.”

Sire said his friend is in a lot of pain.

“Yeah there were kids in the street, just like there have been for the last few weeks, but that doesn’t give you the right to ram through a crowd knowing this is going on in America right now,” Sire said. “This just shows where he stood.”

Not only is he angry at the driver, Sire said he’s upset by police response, including the use of pepper spray in the crowd. The video shows an officer deploying spray at one individual.

“They could have just listened and helped,” he said. “That’s literally, her brother and her cousin were there trying to help, trying to get assistance for her.”

According to Interim Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl, the pepper spray was needed to get the victim help amidst the crowd.

“One individual in particular was not backing up and was very aggressive and went hands on with an officer. It was a matter of creating space for the ambulance,” Wahl said, adding that the department released footage of the incident to address social media posts about police response time.

“It’s disappointing that some would spread false information to try and seemingly sort of fan the flames of tension we’re all going through right now, and really the officers here did exactly what they should have and were focused on the victim,” Wahl said.

For Sire, the hit and run was a spark for change.

“As a community, we have to be the voices for her, so this won’t happen again,” he said. “I want (the driver) prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

Wahl said police have identified a person of interest, who has not yet been charged or named. He said police are being careful to conduct a thorough investigation. While police are exploring all options, Wahl said it can be hard to prove something as a hate crime because of its legal definition, and ultimately charging decisions fall on the district attorney.

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