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Hit & run sparks community outrage, protests over police handling of incident

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Rally after hit & run
Protesters rally in the streets after hit & run crash downtown

MADISON (WKOW) - A hit and run crash has triggered outrage in the community, sending protesters into the streets calling for police to take action and bring justice to the victim.

Police say one person was hit by a pickup truck at University Avenue and Frances Street around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. She has minor injuries and the truck driver left the site of the crash.

A group of friends of the victim organized a rally at James Madison Park Sunday afternoon to call on the police department to release video of the incident and get justice for the woman who was hurt.

"Understand that she could have died. Understand that there have been incidents where women, men have died from people rushing through with trucks, killing people. What makes this special is that she survived, she can tell her story. We're going to be out here fighting for her and for the people that can't voice themselves," said Sire, a march organizer.

That rally continued into the night, as demonstrators marched across the downtown Madison area.

Meanwhile, an organization that has been helping arrange other protests in Madison in the past few weeks is urging supporters to send letters to city officials, calling on them to take action now. In a letter to the mayor, Urban Triage says video shows the driver swerving to intentionally hit the woman. The organization has not publicly shared that video, but Madison Police Department says much of the incident and police response was captured on city cameras.

The letter also says MPD officers pepper-sprayed the victim. An initial incident report indicated officers dealt with uncooperative people while attending to the victim, but did not elaborate on what happened or how that was handled. An update around 9:30 p.m. explained the department's response.

Police say officers saw a crowd of 100-150 people in the street when they arrived. As they tried to find the victim of the hit and run, they were surrounded. Officers helped witnesses carry the victim across the street, according to police, but as they tried to help her they were surrounded by a "highly agitated and aggressive group."

Police say officers used pepper spray to try to move the crowd back from the victim, to allow paramedics in to treat her. Other agencies also came in to help control the crowd.

Urban Triage says it took MPD 30 minutes to get the woman medical help. In the incident report, police said the fire department's ambulance arrived eight minutes after the first 911 call, six minutes after the first police officers arrived. The victim was transported from the site of the incident at about 2:39 a.m., according to police. The first 911 call came in at 2:26 a.m.

In a Facebook post, Urban Triage called the incident a hate crime against a black woman, urging city officials to take action.

Urban Triage said on Twitter Sunday that the organization is not involved in the current protest.

Witnesses initially believed a Wando's Bar employee was the driver, but police have said there is no indication anyone in connection with Wando's was involved.

The bar posted on Facebook that employees are cooperating with investigators and their thoughts are with the victim of the hit and run crash.

Wando’s is very saddened to hear about the tragic event which occurred on Frances Street and University Avenue last...

Posted by Wando's on Sunday, June 21, 2020

Investigators say if anyone has information on this incident, please contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers At 266-6014, or, on the web at P3Tips.com.

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