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Prosecutors: Driver who struck pedestrian at 11th and Atkinson said ‘he drives better when he’s been drinking’

Desmond Ellis

Desmond Ellis

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man with a suspended license stands accused of critically wounding a man, 70, who was struck by a vehicle near 11th and Atkinson on Monday, Aug. 19.

Desmond Ellis, 48, faces the following charges, filed Wednesday, Aug. 21:

  • Injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, causing great bodily harm
  • Injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, causing great bodily harm, with prohibited alcohol concentration
  • Knowingly operating while suspended, causing great bodily harm

According to a criminal complaint, when police arrived on scene, a man, later identified as Ellis, approached officers and said he was the driver of a vehicle that struck a pedestrian. Officers observed his vehicle had a shattered windshield and major damage to the passenger side area. There was an unopened can of beer on the floor, the complaint sad. There was a cane in the roadway.

The victim was found unconscious in the street. At the hospital, it was learned the victim suffered a broken leg, fractured wrist, and brain hemorrhage. At the time of the writing of the criminal complaint, the victim was unconscious and on a ventilator — in critical condition.

The complaint said while speaking with Ellis, officers noted a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, and he was having a hard time maintaining his balance. Field sobriety testing was attempted, and Ellis told police he had been drinking.

Ellis was taken to the hospital for a blood draw, with a result of .214. At the hospital, the complaint said Ellis told staff “he was drunk driving,” and “he drives better when he’s been drinking.” He claimed the crash wasn’t his fault, indicating “the guy just walked out in front of him.”

According to the complaint, surveillance cameras captured the victim walking with his cane in the crosswalk when he was struck.

Ellis had a suspended license at the time, the complaint said, and has two prior convictions for operating after suspension, the most recent occurring in December 2017.

Ellis made his initial appearance in court on Thursday, Aug. 22. Cash bond was set at $7,500. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 30.

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