Family submits civil complaint against Cape Coral Police Department

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Emma Heaton
Published: Updated:

The family of Justin Argenti, a 13-year-old boy who was struck and killed while riding his scooter, filed a civil complaint Thursday against the Cape Coral Police Department, alleging negligence and that race played a factor in the investigation.

On Sept. 9, 2023, Argenti was riding his black and red electric scooter when he was fatally hit by a Hyundai Sonata at the intersection of West Retunda Parkway and Academy Boulevard.

The driver of the Hyundai remained at the scene and was uninjured.

Cape Police reports state that the driver was traveling 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. Investigators concluded that Argenti did not slow down or stop his scooter before entering the intersection.

Family’s allegations

Robert Argenti, Justin’s grandfather who raised him, claims that the responding officer coached the driver on what to write in his statement and failed to issue any charges against him.

Robert, a former police officer, argues that the driver’s speed and failure to brake constitute clear negligence. He says he has video to prove it.

“I’ve investigated hundreds of accidents, car crashes like this, and it is obvious negligence involved,” said the grandfather.

Robert also said he believed the driver was going much faster than stated in the report.

“You’ve got speeding, you’ve got reasonable and prudent speeds, you also have manner of entering an intersection,” he said.

Robert also emphasized the driver who hit his grandson never hit the brakes before hitting Justin.

The family believes race played a role in the decision not to charge the driver, noting that Justin is black and the driver is white.

Police department response

The Cape Police Department did not respond to requests for comment on Friday about this civil complaint.

Earlier in the week, a spokesperson with the department sent an email with the following statement:

We don’t have any updates on the case at this time. The Public Affairs Office does not get notified for potential law suits. That would most likely be civil. For more information, you can check with our records department. As far as sound goes, we are unavailable to do sound on that case. We have no information or comment to provide beyond what we have added in the past.

Seeking justice

Robert said he has tried to contact the police chief, deputy chief, and mayor but has received no response.

“Justify to me why this man was not charged,” said Robert, “when there were so many obvious motor vehicle charges involved here, you have the death of a child. They don’t seem to care that a child was killed by a motorist. For some reason, they’re letting him off the hook. Like I said, in the beginning, when the officer in my house said that speed wasn’t an issue, and I asked if there were any witnesses, and he said, ‘No.’ How did they know? They already predetermined the outcome of this investigation before it even began.”

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