Los Angeles police have arrested one of three drivers who fled last month after each successively struck a 62-year-old pedestrian, who was ultimately left alone to die outside a gas station on Thanksgiving.
At about 8:40 p.m. Nov. 28, Jihad Muhammad was standing on the street outside of a marked crosswalk near Adams Boulevard and West View Street when a white car, which police reported was possibly an Audi A5, traveling eastbound on Adams Boulevard hit him, knocking Muhammad to the ground.
As the car drove away, Muhammad laid motionless in the street, according to police and surveillance footage. Another vehicle, believed to be a white Cadillac Seville, hit him again. The Cadillac also fled the scene.
As one driver stopped to try to help Muhammad, another vehicle, believed to be a white or gray Ford Focus, hit Muhammad again. He became lodged beneath the car, which dragged his body for almost a mile before the driver stopped at a gas station on the corner of Adams and Crenshaw boulevards, according to police.
After pulling up to the gas pumps, the driver got out of her car to see what was under her vehicle, according to police. She then got back into her car and backed up, which dislodged Muhammad from beneath her car.
Her passenger got out of the car and looked at Muhammad lying in front of the vehicle. The passenger got back into car, and they drove away. Muhammad was pronounced dead at the scene by the Los Angeles Fire Department.
At a Monday news conference about traffic safety and accident statistics, LAPD officials announced that Yolanda Thompson, 57, of Los Angeles, was arrested about noon Dec. 16 after she turned herself in.
Authorities declined to provide any further details about Thompson’s arrest, including which car she was driving, citing the active investigation into the identities of the two other drivers.
LAPD Det. Ryan Moreno told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that Muhammad was homeless, and was well known and liked in the neighborhood.
As part of the city’s hit-and-run reward program trust fund, a reward of up to $50,000 is available to community members who provide information leading to the offender’s identification, apprehension and conviction, or resolution through a civil compromise.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore warned at Monday’s news conference that a motorist should never flee the scene of an accident.
“The key for hit-and-runs for me is this: It’s an accident, don’t make it a crime,” Moore said. "``Many times when we see collisions involving pedestrians or other motorists that turn into a hit-and-run, the person who’s actually at fault may not be the person who flees the scene. And yet that person who flees the scene is now committing a felony.”
City News Service contributed to this report.