Video surveillance helped Hopkins police track down and arrest a man who last week allegedly struck a pedestrian and left him for dead, then continued on to a liquor store.
Joshua Nichols, 25, was charged Friday with criminal vehicular operation that caused substantial bodily harm and leaving the scene, according to the complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.
The victim had blood around his mouth and was not moving when officers found him lying partly in the street near S. 5th Street and S. 5th Avenue around 9:20 p.m. April 14. The victim, who may have also had a seizure at the scene and may have suffered a traumatic brain injury, was taken to HCMC, where he was listed in critical condition. Investigators have been unable to speak the victim because of his inability to communicate, the charges said.
The victim, who worked at United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), was walking from the distribution center to another building when he was hit, said Sgt. Mike Glassberg of the Hopkins police. There were no witnesses, but investigators viewed surveillance video provided by the victim’s employer and two neighbors. Video showed a Honda Ridgeline pickup truck with front-end damage in the area about the time of the crash. Investigators collected silver paint chips and plastic debris from the scene, the complaint said.
Two days after the collision, police spotted a pickup parked at a residence in the 700 block of S. 9th Avenue. The truck had front-end damage and silver paint matching specks collected at the scene. A woman at the residence, identified as Nichols’ grandmother, said the truck belonged to him, the charges said.
Police checked Nichols’ Facebook page and found on April 15 he posted a query seeking recommendations for an auto body mechanic. Police also obtained video from a nearby liquor store showing Nichols buying merchandise and checking damage to his truck shortly after the crash, the complaint said.
Nichols, who was charged with drunken driving in December, was booked into jail but posted $50,000 bond. He is due in court on May 20.
“It’s very sad to first strike somebody and leave them in the road and go to the liquor store,” Glassberg said. “We are extremely grateful for getting the footage we needed to track down leads. This was good cooperation between UNFI, residents and police.”