OAK LAWN, Ill.—Family and friends say Murod Kurdi had his whole life ahead of him. He had a steady job where he was well-liked and respected by his co-workers and was a dedicated employee. He was also a beloved son, brother, and uncle. Mr. Kurdi was the provider for his mother since the death of his father seven months ago.
Tragically, the 28-year-old Palestinian American’s life was cut short on June 5 when he was hit by a vehicle as he stood near his parked car outside his single-family home in Oak Lawn, Illinois, which is located 16 miles outside of Chicago. Unfortunately, Kurdi died days later.
The 27-year-old female driver, who is White, allegedly admitted to consuming alcohol, speeding, and being on her cellphone at the time of the incident. However, the driver was simply issued a citation and has not been charged with his death.
More than 200 activists and family members of Mr. Kurdi held a news conference outside of the Oak Lawn Police Department on June 20.
During the news conference, the family’s attorney David Petrich shared the last moments of Mr. Kurdi’s life: just after 5:30 p.m., June 5, Kurdi came home from work and parked his vehicle on the street in front of his family’s home in the 5100 block of West 91st Street. The driver was heading west on 91st Street.
Attorney Petrich said video evidence provided to his firm showed Mr. Kurdi standing in the street near his vehicle.
“She hit him so hard he flew over the front of his vehicle and landed on the parkway west of his house. When he hit the ground there was zero movement. He hit the ground so hard it shook the vehicle next to him,” he said.
The driver also had her young child in her vehicle. Atty. Petrich said video evidence provided to his firm showed the woman driving a block away from the accident scene before stopping. The driver did return to the scene.
“The failure by the Oak Lawn police officers to conduct a thorough investigation will leave the family with the unanswered question of why,” Atty. Petrich said. “I am sure that some of you have concluded why the police officers allowed the offender to go home with only a citation at the same time the family is at the hospital witnessing Murod struggling to stay alive,” he added.
“What happened, I think it was racist; she was able to get away with killing someone. We need justice, this is happening too much, and it’s going to keep happening. Murod was good, he went to work and come home,” stated Mr. Kurdi’s uncle Hafiz Mohamad.
According to a lawyer for Mr. Kurdi’s family, who met with the Oak Lawn Police Department a week after his death, one of the police officers, Mark Hollingsworth, is among the three officers who viciously beat Hadi Abuatelah last July, and who is a target of the Arab American Action Network’s campaign to have all three indicted and fired. One of the three, Patrick O’Donnell was indicted in February.
“Murod Kurdi was killed by a 27-year-old female who admitted to consuming alcohol, provided the name and address of the establishment she was drinking at. She admitted to speeding, admitted to being on her cellphone, yet was free to leave the scene,” Mr. Kurdi’s mother, Fadia Muhamad, said.
Muhammad Sankari, lead organizer with the Arab American Action Network, said: “The driver of the car did not immediately stop, but continued driving until she was a full block away. The Oak Lawn Police Department met with the family’s attorney and the family about a week after the incident, and the police stated that they are no longer investigating the incident as anything related to alcohol. The police were very rude to the family, and they are clearly not interested in getting justice for Murod’s family.”
Mr. Sankari continued, “The woman who struck him admitted to drinking and the officer smelled alcohol on her breath, and she refused a sobriety test; she refused a breathalyzer, which is her right, but the officers did not do their job which would have been to detain her and get a forced blood draw to see if alcohol was involved. They did not do their job, that’s injustice to our community and Murod deserves better. His life mattered and his family matters.”
Others in the community try to understand this tragic event.
“The driver admitted to have been drinking, she was speeding, and she was on her cellphone, that’s reckless driving. That’s a reason to get arrested, a person died from this tragedy. Murod was like a little brother to me. I’ve known him for 10 years. We were co-workers at Golden Tech cellphone store in Country Club Hills, Illinois,” stated Kim Hall.
(Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].)