11 CFA Investigation: Delay in felony hit-and-run arrest

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) A driver is now facing felony charges for a serious hit and run crash. Officers interviewed the suspect and took pictures of his truck the night of the crash, but did not arrest him for weeks.

Thomas Harrison. Accused hit-and-run driver

"I tried to go home and a car hit me," Allen Malinoski told 11 News from his hospital bed.

He is recovering with more than a dozen broken bones after being hit by a truck while he was in a crosswalk near Fountain and Murray in Colorado Springs on December 21, 2018. The driver took off after hitting Malinoski.

"I just can't imagine who would do something like that," said Malinoski's mother, Krista Blocher.

According to court documents obtained by 11 News, on the night of the crash, witnesses were able to tell police a description of the suspect's vehicle and a licence plate number.

Colorado Springs Police officers reportedly were able to make contact with the suspect, 20-year old Thomas Harrison, that night. They interviewed him and took pictures of his truck. Those photos reportedly showed recent damage and a hand print smear in the dust on the middle of Harrison's truck hood. Harrison reportedly denied being involved in a crash and the officers said they "were not able to establish enough probably cause at that time to take any enforcement action."

Nearly two weeks passed with no arrest.

The victim's mother reached out to 11 News last week, hoping to get the word out about the crash to help find the driver who hit her son.

11 News sent an email to the Colorado Springs Police Department on January 2, asking if they had any updates in Malinoski's case. According to court records, the very next day, on January 3, CSPD finally assigned a detective to the case.

After that, it didn't take long to arrest the suspected driver. The detective reviewed the same photos taken the night of the crash and met with the suspect again. Harrison reportedly admitted to the crash after being provided with "investigative facts." He was arrested on January 4 and is now facing charges of causing an accident involving serious bodily injury, careless driving, accident involving damage, and not reporting an accident.

11 News looked into Harrison's background and found he has several traffic tickets in the past and recently pleaded guilty to careless driving in a different case.

When asked about the delay in officially assigning a detective, the Colorado Springs Police Department did not comment directly on this case, but said there could be many reasons why it may take a while to officially assign the case to an expert detective. The reasons listed include: officers having days or holidays off or case reports being rejected by supervisors and returned for corrections prior to forwarding them to the proper detective.

CSPD told 11 News, the investigation into the crash started the night it happened with the officers who initially arrived on scene. They acknowledge, it wasn't until January 3 that the detective was officially assigned to the case, leading to an arrest the very next day.

A spokesperson also said that just because a detective isn't assigned, does not mean the case isn't being worked on. He added that CSPD responds to thousands of crashes every year.