Christopher Patton was having what family and friends described as the best night of his life last month before he was struck and killed by a driver in downtown Denver.
He and a group of four friends traveled from California to Denver for vacation and the group spent the evening of Sept. 6 dining, laughing and sharing memories. They hopped on electric scooters and toured the downtown streets.
About 1:30 a.m. Sept. 7 near 14th and Arapahoe streets, a driver struck 26-year-old Patton and one of his friends, tossing Patton onto the sidewalk and killing him. The young men heard a car revving toward them as they rode the scooters through the streets, Sachal Jogi, Patton’s friend who was injured in the crash, said at a news conference held by Patton’s family Tuesday.
Jogi heard Patton yell, “Watch out!” before the driver struck both of them.
Family members said it’s possible Patton, who was Black, was targeted because of his race and because he was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” mask. Patton’s family and friends are frustrated with the pace of the Denver Police Department’s investigation into the incident, Denver attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai said.
Denver police at a separate news conference Tuesday would not say whether there was any evidence the incident was a hate crime, but said they are pursuing all possibilities.
“We have made some progress in the case, but we need help from the community,” Denver police Division Chief Joe Montoya said.
Investigators on Thursday made their first big break in the case when they recovered the silver 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt they believe was involved in the crash. The car had been reported stolen before the crash and damage to the vehicle matched the incident, as well as evidence found at the scene, traffic investigator Sgt. Stephanie Linkus said.
Security footage showed the car pull into a convenience store less than 24 hours before the crash and four people get out. Investigators know nothing more about the four people in the photos and are asking for the public’s help in identifying them, Linkus said.
Other security footage showed the car 15 minutes before the crash as it stopped in a downtown alley between Stout and California Streets, off of 15th Street. Three men approached the car, opened the passenger side door and then walked away.
Denver police also found security footage of the incident but declined to release the video Tuesday.
“The video does show the car moving toward the group at a high rate of speed,” Linkus said.
Patton was a young leader in the Los Angeles community, his family and friends said. He mentored several boys from low-income neighborhoods and volunteered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office community programs.
“My heart is full of anger and pain,” said Eleza Jackson, Patton’s sister.
Metro Denver Crimestoppers is offering up to a $5,000 reward for any information that helps solve the crime. Anonymous reports can be made to 720-913-7867.
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