Governor Hickenlooper signs Hit and Run Medina Alert Program bill

Categories: Politics

Just over three years after 21-year-old Jose Medina, a valet at the now-defunct Rockstar Lounge at 940 Lincoln Street, died after getting struck by a hit-and-run driver, Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill HB14-1191 into law and created the Hit and Run Medina Alert Program, the first of its kind in the country. "The key is if we solve and get to these cases, it allows us to push back against hit and run," said the governor. "I think people feel that they get away with this, and if we do a better job of apprehending them, that will change."

"We've known for far too long that hit and runs are the most unsolvable crimes in law enforcement, but today we add shape and form and color to the ghost," said Larry Stevenson at yesterday's signing ceremony at the State Capitol. "Today we illuminate what would chose to hide in the darkness, to flee the scene of a crime of leaving somebody to possibly die in the street, worse than a dog."

Stevenson, founder of Taxis Patrol (now Transportation on Patrol), had already created a municipal Medina Alert Program in use in Denver and Aurora. Through that program, he says he's already trained over 5,000 transportation providers in Colorado to keep their eyes open and be good witnesses when a hit and run occurs. The new state law just expands the tools they can use -- and encourages citizens to join in. The Medina Alert will work like an Amber alert, notifying the public to keep their eyes open after a hit and run.

"We will have a way on some platform, whether the digital signs, whether VMS signs on the highway, whether by text messages, e-mails, news alerts, breaking news, whatever it is -- we will have a way to reach over 4 million residents in the State of Colorado," Stevenson said. "What that means is that the person who would chose to hide...they don't only have to be on the lookout for the police department or a taxi driver or a limo driver, they have to be on the lookout for every resident here in the state of Colorado. What that means is that Colorado is biblically correct: We are our brother's keeper."

Denver mayor Michael Hancock stood by Jose Medina's mother, Linda, at the signing. "Now with House Bill 14-1191, we can make it very clear to those who decide to leave what could be an accident at the time and becomes a felony when they flee that we have other tools, including these electronic billboards and Taxis on Patrol, to put out more eyes and alert the community," Hancock said. "Maybe this could have helped us when the young men were hit on 14th Avenue and Yosemite to help the public wake up and realize we are looking for someone."

Hancock was referring to Za May Khan and Ah Zet Khan, two boys killed as they were crossing the street with their mother on March 22, 2013; that crime is still unsolved.

Since the original Medina Alert Program was created two years ago, Hickenlooper says, seventeen Medina alerts have been issued and thirteen cases solved. The expanded statewide program could help solve more: "This lets us get the info to solve hit-and-run crimes. It allows the State Patrol and the Department of Public Safety to alter the media and issue bulletins on electronic highway signs and use other ways," he said.

"The public can be the eyes and the ears to assist law enforcement in apprehending dangerous drivers," Hickenlooper continued. "This bill passed with overwhelming public support. I think this is a kind of legislation that's a smart tool. It doesn't cost us a lot of money but it allows us to dramatically increase our ability to apprehend criminals. I think is a classic example of really where we are doing things differently and better in Colorado."

Unlike some other hit-and-run cases, the death of Jose Medina was solved relatively quickly. Four people were arrested and all pleaded guilty, including Norma Vera-Nolasco, who was driving and so drunk at the time that she said didn't realize she'd run over someone.

From our archives:
"Video: See the SUV that killed kids Za May Khan, Ah Zet Khan in 14th and Yosemite hit-and-run"

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Forcing criminals / suspects to remain at the scene of the crime is a violation of their 5th Amendment Right against self-incrimination.

Forcing drivers / suspects to remain at the scene of the accident does NOT bring the dead back to life.


@DonkeyHotay  You have no right to drive a car. You agree to conditions with the state for the privilege, including waiving any right you may think you have to run away from the scene of an accident like a coward.

But please, take your argument to the courts to try and stop this new law from going forward. It would be hilarious to see you laughed out of courtroom.

RobertChase topcommenter

@ToucanSamDriving cannot be deemed a mere privilege granted by the State if it is the only means by which people can live their lives.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@ToucanSam "You have no right to drive a car."

True ... but EVERYONE does have a Constitutional Right under the 5th Amendment to not be forced to incriminate themselves -- and there is little more incriminating than being required to remain at the scene of the crime.

Why not further require that all drivers must fully confess to police and sign a written declaration of their culpability at the scene without a lawyer present?

Why not pass a law requiring Rapists and Bank Robbers to "remain at the scene" or face additional criminal penalties and jail time for leaving?

Think of how easy it would be to catch all those stationary self-incriminating criminals.

RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  Coming upon the scene of a automotive collision and finding damaged car(s) and people present, one might infer that they were witnesses, curious onlookers, or have been involved in the collision, either as passenger(s) or driver(s).  Having identified a driver as having been involved in a collision does not, of itself, establish any culpability.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase "and police cannot infer much from a driver's mere presence at the scene of an accident."


One of the fundamental requisites for criminal conviction is that the suspect / perp was actually at the scene of the crime.

If they can't infer much from finding the suspect / perp at the very scene of the crime -- as you absurdly assert -- then there is no reason to criminally compel them to remain there.

Ipso facto.

RobertChase topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @ToucanSamRequiring that drivers involved in an accident remain at the scene does not require that suspects testify against themselves.  The Fifth Amendment states that no one "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself", but no criminal case exists immediately after a collision.  The law does not explicitly require the disclosure of any information and police cannot infer much from a driver's mere presence at the scene of an accident.  Such laws do not substantively infringe the Fifth Amendment and create a legal obligation which permits society to assign responsibility for the many collisions that result in significant loss of property, morbidity, and mortality, and to recompense victims.

P.S.  Our legislators are perfectly capable of the absurdities you describe, so don't give them ideas.

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