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Jerome Ealy pleads not guilty to charge in hit-and-run crash that injured 57-year-old man

Jerome Ealy

MILWAUKEE — Jerome Ealy pleaded not guilty on Monday, Feb. 24 to the felony charge associated with the hit-and-run crash that critically injured 57-year-old Julius “Bud” Rodgers.

Rodgers was struck at 46th and Burleigh on Jan. 31. Police were called to the scene around 5:45 p.m. that Friday. They located Rodgers — who was taken to the hospital to be treated for a host of critical injuries including “bleeding on the brain, fractured skull, 2 spinal fractures and fractures to both of his legs.”

According to the criminal complaint against Ealy, officers obtained video from a nearby store. That video shows Rodgers standing in the roadway talking to someone in a vehicle. The complaint says a car “traveling eastbound on W. Burleigh goes around and strikes (Rodgers), causing him to fly in the air. The striking vehicle slows and then flees from the scene and does not stop, does not check on (Rodgers) and does not provide anyone their information.”

Vigil for Julius "Bud" Rodgers -- 46th and Burleigh hit-and-run

Julius “Bud” Rodgers

Investigators say the striking vehicle “was described as a silver Cadillac.” The complaint says debris was left behind at the scene of the crash and included part of the Cadillac’s grill and other “silver pieces from the body of the striking car.”

Police say a citizen witness saw the incident — and followed the suspect vehicle.

Hit-and-run near 46th and Burleigh

Hit-and-run near 46th and Burleigh

About 40 minutes after the crash, officers located the Cadillac parked near N. 37th Street and W. Fond du Lac Avenue. The car was not running. The complaint says the “Cadillac had severe damage to it, including a smashed windshield and damaged grill (also specifically a part missing that matched the piece left at the scene). Officers had to wake the defendant up. He smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated.” The complaint says Ealy failed field sobriety tests.

Hit-and-run crash at 46th and Burleigh

Ealy eventually gave a statement to officers that was documented in the criminal complaint. It says Ealy “admitted driving the silver Cadillac he was found in. The defendant admitted he had drank at his aunt’s home and then felt tired so he decided to head home. (Ealy) stated he was driving eastbound on W. Burleigh and that he thought he might have struck a dog. The defendant stated he wasn’t sure and that after striking the object, he said he didn’t see anything so he then drove to a liquor store and then home. (Ealy) then sat in his Cadillac and drank before falling asleep in his vehicle.”

Ealy is due back in court on March 11.

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