LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man ticketed 19 times, who faces reckless driving charges after he hit and killed a bicyclist, was reportedly driving 67 mph in a 35-mph zone moments before the collision, according to documents the 8 News Now Investigators obtained Wednesday.
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 later 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.
Two Metro police officers heard the crash while working on an unrelated call in the area, documents said.
“Their cameras were facing the west and captured the audible sound of tires screeching, followed by a vehicle driving into a front yard,” documents said. The officers ran to the car, finding a female passenger attempting to remove a child from the backseat.
Hopkins crawled out of the driver’s seat, police said.
“Mr. Hopkins walked into the street, continuing to ask for help, and appeared to be acting erratically,” a detective said. “I describe his behavior as erratic because he repeatedly yelled, ‘Helped me!’ and ‘What happened?’ Mr. Hopkins refused to follow [the officer’s] instructions and orders.
About 15 minutes after the crash, another officer arrived to perform a field sobriety test on Hopkins. Hopkins did not show any signs of impairment, police said.
Metro’s Fatal Detail, which investigates fatal or near-fatal car crashes, did not respond to investigate. However, “because the collision ultimately resulted in a fatality” a fatal detective took over the investigation and reviewed body camera videos from the event, documents said. The Fatal Detail did not initially respond “based on the circumstances that were given,” the detective said.
The detective also reviewed surveillance video from moments before the crash, which he said showed Hopkins “aggressively accelerating and rapidly increasing its distance” at about 65 mph, documents said.
“That’s a lie. That’s a lie,” Hopkins told 8 News Now Investigator David Charns from jail earlier this week. “I was not going no 65-70.”
Police later obtained a search warrant for the car’s data, finding it was traveling at 67 mph with the accelerator “depressed 100 percent” before the crash.
The detective noted there was an “abrupt steering input” as the car traveled at 67 mph, “[causing] the vehicle to yaw,” run off the road, collide with a curb and then Miller, documents said.
Hopkins denied rumors that he or his passenger abruptly turned the steering wheel, causing the crash.
The brakes in the vehicle were not activated, police said.
A witness who was also driving on the road moments before the crash told police “he had to slow his vehicle to avoid a collision,” documents said.
“I tried everything in my power to miss Nathan. I promise you,” Hopkins said from jail earlier this week. “It was the scariest moment of my life.”
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 driving at twice the speed limit with no license, registration, or insurance.
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.
“Accelerating to 32 mph over the posted speed limit, losing control of the vehicle and ultimately taking the life of Mr. Miller can only be defined as reckless,” the detective said.
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.