LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Police have ticketed a man accused of driving recklessly and speeding before he collided with a bicyclist, killing him, at least 19 times for not having a license, registration, or insurance, according to records the 8 News Now Investigators reviewed.
Nathan “Nate” Miller, 32, died hours after a car crashed into him while he was riding a bike northbound on Nellis Boulevard near Tropicana Avenue in the southeast valley on Sept. 23, Las Vegas Metro police said.
Officers arrested the driver, Julius Hopkins, 32, on Thursday. He faced charges of reckless driving resulting in death, child abuse or endangerment, and having no driver’s license, registration, or insurance, police said.
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.
Miller’s friends had contacted the 8 News Now Investigators asking why there were no apparent consequences. The 8 News Now Investigators then aired a report on Wednesday, Oct. 18, because at that point, Hopkins was not facing any charges.
“He really was a good person,” Miller’s mother, Michelle Dorotiak, said at the crash site Friday. Dorotiak visits the memorial – a large cross adorned with photos and bike pedals – every day.
“This is the last place he was seen riding his bike,” she said.
On Friday, more than a month after Miller’s final ride, a friend spraypainted a mural on a wall behind the memorial. It reads, “RIP Nate.”
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.
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.”
“I want to know why he wasn’t arrested that night,” Miller’s sister, Nicole Manning, said Friday.
The 8 News Now Investigators found at least 19 traffic cases in multiple jurisdictions across Clark County where police cited or ticketed Hopkins.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As of Friday, Hopkins owed nearly $2,000 in traffic fines, records showed.
“It’s because we don’t have strict enough laws, we don’t have harsh enough consequences for people,” Manning said. “We smack people on the hand, and we let them go.”
“Who failed?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Manning.
“I think the justice system failed,” she said. “I think he should have been held responsible for these many offenses and many citations that he’s hard a long time ago. If that were the truth, if that were the case, my brother would still be here today.”
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.
“I want to know why he wasn’t arrested that night,” Manning said. “It was a near-fatal accident. My brother died a few hours after he was hit right here and why wasn’t someone held accountable right then?”
Metro’s Traffic Bureau investigates fatal and near-fatal cases. It was unclear Friday why the fatal detail did not immediately appear to investigate the crash involving Hopkins and Miller. The department’s Office of Public Information was closed Friday for the state holiday.
Dorotiak said she planned to appear at all of Hopkins’ court appearances. His next court hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.
“He’ll get something, but it’s not good enough, because he can still live, breathe and drink where my son can’t,” she said.