Doctors saved his foot, but a hit-and-run victim is furious he lost a chance to speak up in court. Did prosecutors do all they could?
“It’s very painful, metal pin going down my toe.” A judge can't feel his pain. Shane Cavlovic wanted to show the injury a hit-and-run driver caused, but a plea bargain he didn't know about denied him that chance. “I didn't get my day in court. I didn't get to say what happened to me and how horrible it’s affected my life.”
The acting city prosecutor says 30,000 cases a year don't always allow time to notify victims of pleas. “We do reach out to people when we can and we rely on a lot of people contacting us,” said Interim City Prosecutor David Smalheiser.
Riding his motorcycle near 120th and Fort last summer, a car cut into Shane’s lane catching his foot. After being struck, Shane says he was dragged into a parking lot. The driver who hit him? “He drove right down this parking lot without tapping his brakes and left the scene.”
Testing right at the legal limit, a first offense DUI charge was reduced to misdemeanor reckless driving and Shane’s injury was listed at the scene as not serious enough to warrant a felony leaving the scene. With a misdemeanor hit-and-run tacked on, the driver got probation.
“The judge did sentence the offender similar to a DUI conviction, however the injuries weren’t taken into consideration at all when this case was filed,” said MADD victim advocate Michelle Halim.
When Shane’s crash happened, prosecutors and police had to make a judgment call on whether an injury is serious enough to warrant a felony. “As we learn later after the fact the injuries appear more serious than evidently the office was made aware of,” said Smalheiser.
The prosecutor says the law changed to make any injury a possible felony. Shane says surgery and five months of rehab should have proven serious enough if he had the chance to put his bad foot forward in court. “I felt extremely denied. I felt pushed to the side like I was rubber stamped through that whole process.”
Matt Rawley's defense attorney says his client is very sorry for the hit-and-run. He says insurance should cover the victim's medical bills. As for the probation sentence, the attorney says it’s tougher than most for reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.