Mother of man police say was killed by drag racing teens pushes for justice
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two teens accused of killing a couple while street racing this summer were in front of a judge Thursday.
One victim’s mother called 19 News when she saw one of our recent investigations that revealed an increase in calls to police about drag racing.
“I reached out to you, because of this drag racing and this unbelievable things happening in our city,” she said.
The site of her son’s death is far from peaceful, but Danica Jankovic insists on maintaining at least a small memorial off Broadway in Slavic Village.
“These two individuals need justice. People need to be held accountable for what they did to them,” she said. “It’s like a trend now. It’s cool to be bad. It was cool to be bad when I was in school, but there was a limit.”
Police said Jankovic’s son, Bobby, and his girlfriend were riding a motorcycle one night this summer when two racing drivers hit and killed them.
“It’s disgusting to know that my son lost his life right here on Broadway where he grew up,” Jankovic said.
Bobby Henry was 22-years-old when he died. His girlfriend, Brianca Palmer was 32, and in town from Buffalo, NY when the accident happened.
Jankovic said it didn’t take long to learn that the suspects in the case are just kids.
“It hurt my soul, because I knew right there we are not going to get any justice for Bobby and Bianca,” Jankovic said.
It is still to be determined in court, but Jankovic said that because she fears the two teens won’t be prosecuted as adults in this case and wouldn’t face as severe of a punishment if convicted. It’s a controversial topic -- how to treat juvenile offenders.
“I believe some kids are worth the effort, the fight to save them. But, when you cause an accident that kills two people and you don’t even get out of your car to check on these two people. The girl did not do that. She doesn’t deserve to go to school,” Jankovic said.
Seeing suspects and their parents in court about breaks Jankovic.
“I cry before. I cry after. I don’t know if I’m more hurt or angry,” she said.
19 Investigates uncovered a 23% increase in calls to police about drag racing this year, compared to last.
Last week in a one on one interview with Cleveland’s new Police Chief Wayne Drummond, we asked him about his plans to crack down on street racers.
He said, “they are celebrated. They are put on YouTube and TikTok and places like that. So, it makes it a little bit more challenging for us.”
Jankovic knows police resources are limited right now. She said, “I’ll be honest with you. I go looking for them. Because when I see them, I turn them in.”
That’s what Chief Drummond encourages everyone to do -- call police when you see someone breaking the law.
“Don’t let them drag race through our city,” Jankovic said.
It’s not just Cleveland battling a street racing problem. Our CBS sister station in Chicago recently reported on a new ordinance passed there that places a more hefty fine on illegal racers and drifters. We’ll take a look at how other cities are combatting the issue in the days to come.
Cleveland’s Police Chief says he is actively willing and working with partners like the state patrol to bring in more stings and traffic enforcement to catch the bad guys.
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