The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 23, 2013

Hit-and-run victim looking for witnesses

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — It’s been more than two weeks since a hit-and-run driver left Gerald Moutry lying on the street in broad daylight.

Moutry was riding his bike on Fourth Street at about 12:35 p.m  on April 8. He said he was hit by a man driving a black four-door car as he crossed Warren Street. Moutry described the driver as being white with longer brown hair.

“The guy got out of the car and asked me if I was all right,” Moutry said. “I shook my head. So he said, ‘Let me pull over.’ Then he took off and left me in the middle of the street.”

Moutry was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated for an injury to his leg and released. He also had to repair the bent wheels on his bike. Since then he’s been watching the streets hoping to find the car that hit him.

He thinks he has found it —at a downtown residence not far from the spot where the crash occurred. Police investigating the incident are reporting they don’t have enough evidence to file charges at this point, so the case is on hold.

Moutry is hoping someone can come forward with more information so the man who hit him can be found. His trip to the hospital was expensive, so he’s also hoping the driver had insurance.

After Moutry was hit, he told a police officer what he thought was the license plate number. Two days after the hit-and-run, Moutry found a car in a downtown Mankato driveway that had a license plate number that was very close to the one he had initially reported.

“I was looking at every black car going down the street,” Moutry said. “Then there it was. I was one number off in my head, but I knew this was the car.”

He called police April 11 and an officer, who hadn’t taken the initial report, was sent over to the residence. The car is owned by a woman, but she told the officer her boyfriend was driving the car the day Moutry was hit. However, she said her boyfriend works in Lake Crystal and doesn’t come home for lunch because he only has an hour break.

That officer asked Moutry if he could pick the driver out of a photo lineup. He said he could.

The case was returned to the original officer to follow up, but she didn’t do a photo lineup. She talked to the owner of the car, though.

This time the woman said her boyfriend had been texting her during his lunch break, according to that police report. She also said she had a debit card statement showing her boyfriend had made a purchase at a convenience store in Lake Crystal, the Collis C-Store, during his lunch break April 8.

Her boyfriend also told the officer he had been at the store during his break, adding that his supervisor was with him. When the officer talked to the supervisor, he said he and the man had only been at the store together for about five minutes.

There also was no damage on the front of the car that could be used to show it had hit someone on a bike, the officer reported. So she concluded  there was no proof the car hit Moutry and no proof the owner’s boyfriend was driving the car at the time of the crash.

She also concluded there was no “absolute proof” that the boyfriend was in Lake Crystal for his entire lunch hour and didn’t make a quick trip home. And the car could have been involved, even if there was no damage to prove it, she said.

“Until further leads or evidence arise, there is no further action needed by this officer,” her report said. “Case inactive.”

Moutry said he is convinced he found the right car and was hoping the police would do more.

“Are you just going to let people hit people and not do anything about it?” Moutry said. “That’s what it feels like to me. Thank God it wasn’t worse than it was for me.”

The case is inactive, but it isn’t closed, said Cmdr. Dan Schisel of the Mankato Department of Public Safety. He said he gives Moutry credit for his effort to find the car, but there needs to be proof before charges can be filed. Officers understand his situation and also want to catch the driver.

“If there’s injuries, it can be a financial situation for the person being hit,” Schisel said. “We’re following up and we haven’t found the suspect yet. The damages we’re looking for haven’t been discovered.”