Suspect in hit-and-run of girl, 9, ID'd

Safiya Bankhead

February 21, 2012 2:19:21 PM PST
The suspect in the hit-and-run of a 9-year-old girl in Philadelphia surrendered to authorities on Tuesday.

Accompanied by her attorney, Safiya Bankhead, 32, turned herself into authorities and admitted to the hit and run charges and driving without a license.

"When this occurred she did what she shouldn't do. She panicked and she will have to deal with this in the court system," said Bankhead's attorney Michael Gianpientro.

Bankhead admitted to striking 9-year-old Aijahanae Johnson and leaving the scene. Aijahanae survived with only bumps and bruises.

The incident occurred last Tuesday evening on Merion Avenue in the city's Parkside section.

Bankhead's attorney said his client was driving home from work when the accident happened. Grief stricken in the days following, the mother of two decided to come forward.

"Ultimately she did the right thing, she came in and turned herself in, which we don't see often, so I give her credit," said Capt. John Wilczynski of the Philadelphia Police.

On Saturday, police released surveillance video of the hit-and-run in hopes of tracking down the vehicle and driver.

As seen in the surveillance video, Aijahanae waited for one car to pass, but she misjudged the next one and jumped off her bike to try to escape the oncoming car.

Instead of getting back on the sidewalk, police say the girl panicked and ran across the street.

"The car was coming fast...and they came and hit me and I fell over there by the trash can," Aijahanae told Action News last week.

As Aijahanae was thrown several feet, the dark colored vehicle took off.

"That's not right, that's a human being, why would you just leave her there," Aijahanae's sister Laniya Johnson said.

Action News received word late Monday that Bankhead, had turned herself into authorities.

However, Bankhead couldn't be processed because the courts were closed for the President's Day holiday. So, she came back on Tuesday.