Police charge suspect with hit-and-run in death of 19-year-old Charlotte pedestrian

A suspect in Charlotte’s first pedestrian fatality of 2019 turned himself in and has been charged with felony hit-and-run, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said on Wednesday.

Christian Jabez Chandler, 22, voluntarily went to CMPD’s University City division office on Tuesday. There, he was interviewed, then arrested and transported to the Mecklenburg County jail, police said in a news release.

Police also on Wednesday identified the man killed in the deadly wreck as Demetrice Shakeal Gillespie, 19.

The crash marked the start of another deadly year for people walking in Charlotte. Such deaths have increased, setting new records for the past two years.

In 2018, a record 28 pedestrians were killed in the city, surpassing the previous record of 27 pedestrian fatalities in 2017.

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On New Year’s Day police said they responded at 1:12 a.m. to the 10000 block of North Tryon Street. That’s just north of the intersection with Mallard Creek Church Road.

There, Gillespie, had been walking southwest on North Tryon Street, or on the shoulder of the road, when he was struck by a black Nissan Altima, police said. The driver of the Nissan Altima did not stay at the scene, police said. On Wednesday, police identified that driver as Chandler.

The victim, Gillespie, was thrown about 50 feet and struck again by an SUV, which threw him a further 60 feet. Then a passenger sedan struck Gillespie and dragged him approximately 1,000 feet, before stopping in a parking lot with the victim underneath.

The drivers of those two vehicles stayed at the scene, according to investigators, and were not charged with any crimes. The second and third drivers were not speeding or impaired, police said.

“The victim in this crash was wearing dark clothing, and was not using a nearby sidewalk,” police said in a news release. They have not said whether they believe Chandler, the first driver to strike Gillespie, was impaired or speeding.

Police said on Wednesday they had located the 2018 black Nissan Altima and seized the vehicle as evidence. The investigation is ongoing, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call the CMPD Major Crash Unit at 704-432-2169.

Cassie Cope covers business in Charlotte, with a focus on Charlotte Douglas airport, Duke Energy, Atrium Health and Novant Health. She previously covered politics at The State in Columbia, S.C., and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.