Cries of “Justice for Dr. K” were heard Saturday as a group of people marched toward the Lauderhill Police Department demanding "justice" for a man fatally run over by his own car in a towing incident.
Elias Konwufine, the 39-year-old dean of Keiser University's business school, jumped onto the running boards of a tow truck Wednesday night and fell under the wheels of his car as the wrecker pulled away from his Lauderhill neighborhood, according to police.
Konwufine was taken to a hospital, where he died, police said.
Participants of Saturday's rally, saying they wanted accountability in Konwufine’s death and police to investigate thoroughly, marched to the police station from the neighborhood where Konwufine, a married father of three, lived.
Vidian Mallard, an attorney in the group, argued that Konwufine’s “only crime” was parking his car in his driveway on the sidewalk. “That should never result in death – ever,” Mallard said.
Participants held signs, including one that read, “We want justice for Dr. Elias K!!”
The tow truck driver, who only wants to be identified by the name Ken, on Friday told NBC 6 he wasn't out to hurt anybody and was just doing his job. He said things went bad when Konwufine tried to stop him from driving away with his car.
“We’re just doing our job,” the tow truck driver said. “You do what you got to do and tow the cars. It ain't about money.”
He said Konwufine jumped on the running board -- the stepping board used to get in the tow truck -- "and held onto my handle of the tow truck."
He said the car owner "started beating on the window to get in to stop me." The tow truck driver said he turned to look at the car owner as he slowed his tow truck and "saw him get back off the truck."
Next, he said he felt “a bump, not knowing he fell off the truck. His car ran him over.”
It was too early to say whether the tow truck driver would face any charge, said police, who say they still are investigating.
Police Capt. Rick Rocco said "it doesn’t look like" the driver would be charged, based on the preliminary information. "But again, we’re not done with the investigation so I don’t want to rule that out completely."
Rocco continued: “We’re still trying to put the pieces together to see exactly what the actions were of the driver, of the tow truck, what exactly the actions were of the individual who was run over."
The encounter began Wednesday, when the tow truck was towing the car because it “apparently was in violation of some policy or rule in this community,” and the car's owner appeared and "got up on the running boards of the truck," Rocco said.
When Konwufine's car was attached to the tow truck, the car had been lifted from its back end and its front-end wheels were slightly turned, he said.
“So the car wasn’t exactly behind the tow truck. It was sort of at an angle toward the driver’s side," Rocco said. "When the individual came off the tow truck and the tow truck pulled forward, the car rolled over the individual."
When police and fire-rescue personnel arrived, Konwufine "didn’t appear to have life-threatening injuries, but they transported him to the hospital,” Rocco said. About two hours later, the hospital notified police that he had died, Rocco said.
In an interview Friday, Rocco said that police were checking if any surveillance cameras were in the neighborhood that may have recorded the incident. Police also are were searching for witnesses and planned to speak to the tow truck driver "more in-depth," Rocco said.
Rocco reminded the public that, generally, there are other ways of dealing with a towed car, including complaining to the tow company or the neighborhood association that contracts with the company.
"It all boils down to it’s a tragedy," Rocco said of Konwufine’s death. "This individual is deceased. The family is grieving, obviously. It’s just not a good situation for anybody."
Saturday, Konwufine’s friends alleged that tow truck drivers have had a history of being aggressive in their neighborhood.
“The reckless habits of the tow truck is something that should not be tolerated,” said one friend, Andre Menyunga.
Menyunga added that his friend paid association fees in his neighborhood. “If you can't park in front of your own house, where else can you park?"
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