Hit and runs on the rise in Memphis, 1 case closer to being solved

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The number of deadly hit and runs is on the rise in Memphis. A total of 1,632 pedestrians were hit by drivers in Tennessee last year. Out of those, 480 were in Memphis. Almost half of those, 184, were hit and runs.

Now, the family of one of the victims may be closer to getting justice.

Detectives investigating the death of Christopher Phillips said they are closing in on an arrest.

Phillips was struck and killed near Overton Square.

"I took a selfie with him and told him when I'm gone decades from now, you're gonna look back on this and you're gonna appreciate it," Phillips' mother Lauri Phillips said.

But, for Phillips' parents, that day never came.

Phillips died after he was hit by a car while crossing Madison Avenue near Morrison on February 22.

He was knocked out of his shoes and favorite U of M hat. He was left on the street to die as the driver kept going.

"Bringing justice that he does deserve will enable us to start to be able to figure out how to move forward," Lauri said.

Memphis police said a surveillance camera captured images of the car they believe hit Phillips.

It's a silver Ford Mustang, possibly a 2005, with damage to the front driver's side windshield.

Police filed a warrant to search a local car dealership, but so far have made no arrests.

"We are pulling pieces and parts together at least every week," MPD Colonel Samuel Hines said. "Hopefully within the next 30 days plus or minus we will have some good information and be able to put this case to rest."

The Phillips family and friends have been waiting four months for Christopher's killer to be brought to justice. One of the questions we had is why the case is being handled by MPD's Traffic Bureau and not by homicide detectives.

"If it was criminal intent, where the person was using the vehicle as a weapon to injure the pedestrian, then it would be a situation where homicide would have it. But if it started out and was really an accident, then it's probably gonna end up in the traffic station in our STIS unit, which is our Special Traffic Investigation Squad," Hines said.

The STIS is made up of 21 detectives that are trained in accident reconstruction, surveillance, and matching wreckage with vehicles still on the scene or long gone.

Documents obtained show the STIS has investigated 38 deadly hit and runs in the past two and a half years.

Only 16 of those cases have been solved.

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