LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Despite police ticketing him 19 times for driving without a license, registration, or insurance, a Las Vegas man described himself as a “good driver” and apologized for killing a bicyclist.
Julius Hopkins, 32, faced charges of reckless driving resulting in death, child abuse or endangerment, and having no driver’s license, registration, or insurance, for the Sept. 23 crash on Nellis Boulevard near Tropicana Avenue in the southeast valley.
Nathan “Nate” Miller, 32, died hours after Hopkins crashed into him, police said. Hopkins was driving a car registered to him, records showed. The registration, which appeared to be a temporary Nevada plate, expired in March.
Miller’s friends and family said he was a BMX champion who loved riding his bike.
Police cited Hopkins at the crash site and released him. Officers arrested him Thursday, Oct. 26, after friends came to the 8 News Now Investigators with questions about the crash investigation. The 8 News Now Investigators then aired a report on Wednesday, Oct. 18, because at that point, Hopkins was not facing any charges.
“I tried everything in my power to miss Nathan. I promise you,” Hopkins said from jail. “It was the scariest moment of my life.”
Videos the 8 News Now Investigators obtained appeared to show Hopkins’ car jerking back and forth before colliding with Miller. The car then crashed into a fence and a parked vehicle, police said.
“I hit the curb, trying to get out of his way,” Hopkins said. “That’s when the crash happened.”
Hopkins made his first court appearance Friday morning where a judge set bail at $50,000. During the 3-minute hearing, a prosecutor said Hopkins was allegedly driving at twice the speed limit with no license, registration, or insurance.
“That’s a lie. That’s a lie,” Hopkins told 8 News Now Investigator David Charns. “I was not going no 65-70.”
“You have no license. You have no insurance. Why were you driving?” Charns asked Hopkins.
“I’ve never been in an accident in my life,” Hopkins said. “I wasn’t supposed to be driving, yes. I was not supposed to be driving. Those are facts. Those are facts. But I’ve never been in an accident in my life, and I never expected something to happen like that in my life.”
The crash report the 8 News Now Investigators obtained reveals an officer deemed Hopkins at fault for the crash, though “no enforcement action [was] taken.”
The 8 News Now Investigators found at least 19 traffic cases in multiple jurisdictions across Clark County where police cited or ticketed Hopkins. The records date back to 2010.
Hopkins has 14 traffic cases in Las Vegas Justice Court. His earliest case, filed in September 2010, was on a charge of no insurance, records showed. Six of the 14 cases remained open as of Friday as Hopkins had not paid a fine or had not yet appeared before a judge.
Hopkins also had traffic cases in Las Vegas Municipal Court, which handles such citations within Las Vegas city limits; Henderson Municipal Court and North Las Vegas Municipal Court, records showed.
“You’ve been pulled over or cited 19 times,” Charns told Hopkins.
“Throughout my life,” Hopkins said.
“Right, that’s a lot,” Charns said. “You were told 19 times not to drive, you don’t have a license, you don’t have insurance, and you’re still driving.”
“I tried to get my license and they tell me I can’t get my license because of the tickets,” Hopkins said.
As of Friday, Hopkins owed nearly $2,000 in traffic fines, records showed.
In the Henderson case, an officer cited Hopkins in February for driving with a suspended registration, records showed. Hopkins pleaded no contest but later failed to pay a multi-hundred-dollar fine. The court then issued a warrant for his arrest. Police then arrested Hopkins in August, ordering him to pay more fines.
“And they send me on my way, they make it seem like it’s not a big deal,” Hopkins said about each time an officer ticketed him.
Hopkins’ most recent case before the crash was filed in April for operating without insurance and a valid driver’s license, records showed. There was no record of any activity in the court docket other than the citation’s issuance.
“I have to live my life,” Hopkins said about driving. “I have to try to make something happen. I have a wife. I have a kid. I’m a godparent, man. I’m a father that works. I have to do something, I can’t just be a sitting duck just because I don’t have a license, do you understand me, sir?”
Last January, a new Nevada law decriminalized minor traffic offenses. The bill also abolished the practice of issuing warrants for failure to pay traffic fines or appear in court. Several open cases have no documented event other than the issuance of a citation.
The officer noted on the crash report that neither alcohol nor drugs were involved, however, there was no check box on the form for how the officer made that determination. It was unclear what Hopkins told the officer or what potential witnesses could have reported as his arrest report was not immediately available.
On Monday, prosecutors dropped the charge of driving without a license, replacing it was a charge of “resident with non-Nevada driver’s license,” records showed. Hopkins remained in custody as of Tuesday and was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in January.