The family of a restaurateur fatally struck by a driver in the District said this week they are waiting for closure more than two years after his death.
Armin Amin, co-owner of Chaplin’s in the Shaw neighborhood, was struck by a Mercedes-Benz after leaving the restaurant to walk a friend to her car. Amin, 44, wasn’t in a crosswalk when he was hit in the 1500 block of Ninth Street NW, according to a D.C. police accident report.
He was taken to a hospital, where he died. No charges have been filed in his death.
A police report indicates the driver of the vehicle, Carlishia Elligan of Reston, Va., had a blood alcohol level of 0.09, above the 0.08 legal limit for operating a vehicle. A police report indicated the road surface was wet when Amin was struck about 2 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2016.
According to D.C. Superior Court documents in a civil suit Amin’s family filed last year against Elligan, she admitted her vehicle struck Amin but denied being legally intoxicated. The case was settled earlier this year, with Elligan agreeing to pay more than $72,000 to Amin’s family immediately, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to his 13-year-old daughter through 2039.
Neither Elligan nor her attorneys responded to requests for comment.
Sean Cease, Amin’s brother-in-law, said the family hopes Elligan will be charged in Amin’s deathafter the case has been assigned to three different D.C. police detectives. Before Amin’s father died of lung cancer this year, Cease said, he asked about the case “almost daily.”
“I want there to be justice in some way,” Cease said. “I don’t know how to do it.”
Cease provided an email to The Washington Post from a D.C. police detective sent earlier this year that said a toxicology report “does indicate sufficient probable cause for an arrest warrant for DUI,” but stated authorities were waiting for prosecutors to act in the case.
“I have prepared an arrest warrant for DUI but cannot present this warrant to the court until a decision is made by the United States Attorney’s Office,” the email read.
Prosecutors and D.C. police declined to comment on the case.
Amin family attorney Jonathan E. Halperin said he is “shocked” Elligan hasn’t been charged, noting that civil cases typically are settled after, not before, criminal charges are brought.
“This is a decision that should have been made a long time ago,” he said. “They’re not telling the family anything either.”
In a separate case, court records indicate Elligan pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while impaired in 2014 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Sean Farrelly, a former D.C. prosecutor who isn’t involved in the case but reviewed an accident report, said the report appeared to show Amin “darted out into traffic and got hit.” Prosecutors sometimes decline to bring charges in such cases, Farrelly said, even if a driver is impaired.
“At this point it’s safe to say she’s not going to be charged,” he said.
Cease said Amin’s family had fallen out with other co-owners of Chaplin’s over Amin’s financial stake in the restaurant. Ari Wilder, a co-owner of the restaurant, didn’t respond to questions seeking comment.
Amin, the son of immigrants from Iran, grew up in Potomac.
The District had 10 fatalities in 2016 related to alcohol-impaired driving, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Peter Hermann contributed to this report.