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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Family of man in parking lot hit-and-run asks Wilmington: Why no charges?

A dispute in a bar left one man with severe injuries as a result of a hit-and-run. But police say it was accidental and that no charges are forthcoming.

The parking lot at Might as Well Bar and Grill in Wilmington where Vince Iventosch was run over last month (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
The parking lot at Might as Well Bar and Grill in Wilmington where Vince Iventosch was run over last month (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

Warning: Contains an explicit photo of an injury.

WILMINGTON — What started out as a typical Saturday night out would soon become a nightmare for Wilmington resident Vincent Iventosch. By the end of the night, he would be run over and left to bleed in the parking lot of a local bar. Then police would accuse him of instigating the event that led to his own pain and suffering.

After conducting an investigation into the incident, Wilmington Police Department has declined to bring charges against the driver of the vehicle who struck Iventosch, dragged him 12-feet and then fled the scene.

Iventosch underwent several hours’ worth of reconstructive surgery, has had his jaw wired shut for six weeks, and will face a number of expenses for his treatment. The driver and passengers of the truck that hit him have not faced any repercussions, even for leaving the scene of the accident.

The driver of the vehicle had been drinking that night and, according to a police interview with Iventosch, interactions between two separate groups of friends had led to rising tensions at the bar. But police have deemed the incident as an accident, not deliberate, and will not be bringing forth any charges against the driver.

The story according to police

On Feb. 3, Wilmington Police responded to an incident at 250 Racine at the Might as Well Bar and Grill.

According to the police incident report, at 10:04 p.m. Wilmington officers were dispatched to respond to a traffic collision in which the victim, Iventosch, had been driven over and dragged for 12-feet.

By the time an officer arrived on scene, Iventosch had already been transported to the hospital and the driver of the vehicle that struck him, had fled the scene.

The next day, the responding officer was once again dispatched to the scene to meet with the driver, who had seen news reports about the incident and turned himself in.

According the police report, the driver was, “unware that he had struck Pedestrian-1 (Iventosch) until seeing a local news report.”

A Wilmington man, Vince Iventosch was run over by a vehicle and left bleeding in a parking lot after a night out, but police are saying no criminal charges will be brought against the driver who fled the scene (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY SANDI IVENTOSCH)
A Wilmington man, Vince Iventosch was run over by a vehicle and left bleeding in a parking lot after a night out, but police are saying no criminal charges will be brought against the driver who fled the scene (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY SANDI IVENTOSCH)

The brief incident report does not detail the entire night, but it does appear to attempt to explain the events that occurred in the parking lot of the restaurant.

According to the report, the driver of a large pickup truck reported Iventosch, along with a person referred to in the report as Witness-1, had been on either side of his vehicle, and witness-1 had been banging on the passenger side window.

Iventosch, according to the police report, was standing on the driver’s side of the truck when, in an attempt to avoid a physical confrontation, the driver pulled out of the parking lot striking Iventosch and dragging him for 12-feet until fleeing the scene.

But Iventosch contradicts that claim and insists he was in front of the vehicle.

The driver, along with the witnesses, who had all been drinking the night before, made formal statements to police the next day after seeing a news report asking for any information on the accident.

According to a passenger of the truck, he believed the driver had struck a curb. He told police he did not believe the driver had run over a person.

The incident report describes the incident as an accident with both parties to blame.

The police incident report states, “My investigation revealed that Driver-2 failed to see before starting forward that the movement could be made safely. Pedestrian-1 (Iventosch) failed to step away from the vehicle to safety and was standing in a location so close to the vehicle as to be unreasonable as the vehicle attempted to leave the parking lot. Driver-2 said he believed that he and the vehicle occupants were being confronted by a number of people and chose to leave rather than be involved in a physical confrontation. All occupants of vehicle-2 denied knowledge of striking pedestrian-1. All persons involved in this event had been consuming alcoholic beverages prior to the event.”

Although the police report acknowledged there was alcohol involved in the accident, it is maintains there is no reason for criminal charges.

“Our office reviewed an exhaustive investigation conducted by WPD and concluded that there was insufficient evidence of a crime in that incident. Multiple prosecutors reviewed it and did not find probable cause for arrest,” Samantha Dooies, assistant to the District Attorney wrote in an email.

Wilmington Police responded to questions about the incident on social media and also claimed they suspect no criminal intent.

“Our traffic officers completed a thorough investigation and after a consultation with the District Attorney’s Office it was determined that there was no criminal intent on the suspects part. This incident involved drugs and alcohol use from both parties. Once the driver of the truck discovered that someone was hit, he turned himself in to local police and cooperated fully. This is an unfortunate incident but not criminal. This now a civil matter,” according to Wilmington Police Department’s social media post.

The story according to Iventosch

Vince and his fiancee Shonda (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY SANDI IVENTOSCH)
Vince and his fiancee Shonda (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY SANDI IVENTOSCH)

According to Iventosch’s fiancée Tashonda McClammy, Iventosch was brought to the hospital. When he was finally in stable enough condition to see friends and family, she said she was the first to go.

After leaving briefly to get Iventosch some water, she she said she returned to find an officer attempting to get Iventosch to concede that he and his friends had, “instigated all of this.”

McClammy said Iventosch was on a heavy dose of pain medications and the officer was asked to leave the hospital room and not question him at that time.

Due to the uncomfortable interaction she had witnessed, McClammy recorded the next interaction between police and Iventsoch.

(Listen to the entire conversation here)

The recording lasts for nearly 43-minutes. In it officers attempt to explain what they believed happened, while continuously challenging Iventosch’s narrative. The two officers have not been identified.

The two groups

According to the interview, the incident began inside of the bar, when Iventosch and his group of friends had some sort of interaction with the driver of the vehicle, and his friends.

Iventosch had decided to make his way to the gas station down the street to buy some beer and cigarettes. During that time, he said his phone had died and he was unable to get a ride home.

When he returned to the bar, he had planned on getting a ride home with his friends who drove a similar style of truck as the other group of men.

He accidentally walked up to the wrong truck hoping to get a ride home, but realized that the passengers were not his friends.

“I walked up to their truck, now I had met these guys in the bar earlier that night … I walked up to their truck and I just asked them, ‘Hey my phone just died my Uber is not working, can I give you guys $10 to drop me right over here on Kerr?’ I guess they didn’t like me from the bar earlier and were just like ‘Hell no, screw you …’” Iventosch said.

Iventosch admitted there was some name calling and the two groups had already been bickering, but it had not led to any serious altercations.

“It was kind of competitive when we were in the bar, we talked about chugging a beer for like $5 or something like that. It was like a little competition, but, like I said, the skinny guy and the brother who’s truck it wasn’t got along with me fine,” Iventosch said.

Police told Iventosch they had video of both parties for the entire time they were in the bar, and said that a male identified only as Stetson, Iventosch’s friend was being an, “agitator.”

According to police, when Iventosch left to go to the store, his friend had been involved in an altercation that led to rising tensions between the two groups. Police claim Stetson had grabbed a slice of pizza off the plate of the other patron, took a bite and tossed it back down on his plate.

“Look, if you grab my pizza and I’ve been drinking, that’s like fighting words right there,” the officer said to Iventosch.

After walking away without a ride, Iventosch found his friends in the parking lot but realized he had left his purchases from the gas station near the truck driven by the men who refused him a ride.

When Iventosch and his friend went to retrieve the purchases, the beer and cigarettes were nowhere to be seen.

Iventosch and his friend exited their vehicle and went to ask the driver and his passengers if they had seen his property.

“Stetson goes and knocks on their window and then I got out and went over to the car … I walked around the front and as soon as I walked around the front, I saw the skinny guy, he looked me in my eyes so I don’t know how he could say he didn’t see me …”

According to the police report, the truck then proceeded to drive away, running over Iventosch and dragging him a number of feet before leaving the scene.

A biased investigation?

Iventosch’s mother, Sandi Iventosch spoke with Port City Daily about the incident, and about why she is surprised and concerned the police are refusing to bring criminal charges against the driver.

The night of the incident, Sandi received a phone call saying that Vince Iventosch had been hit and left bleeding in the parking lot at the bar.

By the time she arrived at the scene, police were on the way and Vince had been taken to the hospital. At that point, she had no idea whether or not her son was going to live or die, or the extent of his injuries.

The thought that criminal charges would not be brought forward did not cross Sandi’s mind, she said.

“We thought surely they would be arrested, no questions asked,” she said.

But, the next day when the driver and friends turned themselves into police, their car was not impounded, nor were they arrested.

When Sandi Iventosch heard the recording of the interaction between the police and her son, she said she was shocked by the accusatory implications coming from police.

“It was very telling, I thought. When I listened to the recording it seemed like the police were trying to act as defense attorneys,” Sandi Iventosch said.

During the recorded conversation, an officer makes a statement that was worrying to Sandi when he refers to one of Vince’s friend as a, “semi-gay guy” and another as “pain in the (expletive).”

In the audio the officer excuses the name calling by explaining that he identified everyone in the video by some visual or audible cue. Those identities included, “Smarty pants, pain in the (expletive), (and) red pants.

“Dylan has kind of a light voice so that’s why I was calling him, again, semi-gay guy,” the officer says.

Conflicting stories

In the audio, the officer tells Vince the driver’s description of what happened is different than what was described by Vince and his friends.

“Here’s what they thought … Their story is that Stetson was hitting the window, the passenger side window. Then other people, they heard other people hitting the truck … They saw more than Stetson and you at the truck … the whole thing is that they thought that they were going to get beat up,” the officer told Vince during the recorded interview. “We think that the guy who you said didn’t like you, he didn’t not, not like you, he had a problem with Stetson … he was associating you with that group.”

Police continued to tell Vince that his friend is considered the agitator and claimed the driver and his passengers saw other vehicles pulling up and surrounding the vehicle. Vince continued to say that only he and Stetson were by the truck.

Their story is that Stetson was hitting the window … all three of them were like, ‘lets get the hell out of here’ … What I think happened is that the guy that you said didn’t like you but was pissed off (about the whole Stetson thing), I think they may have had words outside …”

The officer continued to say that the driver of the truck had tried to leave, and had already let the pizza incident go, but when he made his way outside Stetson was still there. In the audio the officer can be heard to interject his own opinion saying he thought something was said outside.

But Vince insisted that this was not the case, since he saw the group leaving the bar without incident.

As of Monday, Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Linda Thompson said the police were made aware of the incident on Friday, even though the first statement made by the department about the issue took place Wednesday on Facebook.

Thompson offered little information on the future of the case and said, “The Office of the Chief was looking into it.”

Thompson would not confirm the names of the officers in the recording.

Police Report Vince Iventosch by Michael James on Scribd

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