Metro

‘Everybody’s shocked by what happened,’ uncle of man charged in fatal hit-and-run crash says

Afeworki Kidanemariam, uncle of Malone Kidanemariam, spoke outside the courtroom after the arraignment.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Afeworki Kidanemariam, uncle of Malone Kidanemariam, spoke outside the courtroom after the arraignment.

Malone Kidanemariam was in a panic after he hit a bicyclist in the Back Bay, so he kept driving, eventually pulling his damaged rental car into the Boston Common Garage, according to court documents.

As Rick Archer, 29, lay at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Clarendon Street early on the morning of April 30 with injuries that would prove fatal, Kidanemariam’s car showed clear signs of a collision. One passenger told police he couldn’t “even see through the windshield.”

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The details were made public Wednesday as Kidanemariam, 25, of Dorchester, appeared in Boston Municipal Court. He was ordered held on $25,000 bail on a charge of leaving the scene of a deadly crash. Kidanemariam, who turned himself in on Tuesday evening, pleaded not guilty.

The arraignment came as bicycle safety advocates and friends of Archer were set to hold a memorial “ghost bike” ceremony and ride in his memory at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The procession went from the crash site to City Hall.

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The gathering drew about 200 people, many of whom lit white candles placed around a bicycle, painted white, that leaned against a utility pole. About 100 bicycles were locked to the iron fence along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

“Rick Archer was just trying to ride his bike, which is a reasonable expectation for Bostonians,” said the Rev. Laura Everett, 38, head of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and a cyclist, before addressing the crowd. “We’re here to remember his life, grieve his death, and call for more public sponsored funding.”

05/10/2017 BOSTON, MA Attendees lit candles around a Ghost Bike placed at the intersection of Clarendon and Commonwealth in Boston in memory of Rick Archer (cq). Archer was a bicyclist killed at the intersection. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Attendees lit candles around a Ghost Bike placed at the intersection of Clarendon and Commonwealth in Boston in memory of Rick Archer.

A few of Archer’s friends offered personal remembrances. They also spoke of the need to for people to “tell the truth,” though Kidanemariam was never mentioned.

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After the service, mourners hopped on their bikes to head to City Hall, where they attended a budget hearing. About 200 cyclists and activists filled the City Council chamber and an overflow room where they watched a video of the hearing.

“We want to tell the council, to tell the mayor, that we need more funding for Vision Zero,” said Becca Wolfson, 33, of Somerville, director of the Boston Cyclists Union.“We need everyone behind the wheel to know they are operating a weapon.”

Vision Zero is a national safety project that aims to eliminate, or reduce, serious injuries in road traffic.

In court, defense attorney Patrick M. Troy called the crash “an absolute tragedy.” Kidanemariam, who Troy said is a graduate of Wellesley public schools and Bay State College, has no criminal record. Troy asked for a lower bail of $5,000.

But Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Benjamin Megrian said the seriousness of the allegations, combined with the fact that Kidanemariam did not come forward until more than a week after the crash, justified a higher amount. Judge James Stanton agreed to Megrian’s request.

Dozens of family and friends from the Ethiopian-American community came to the Boston courthouse in support of Kidanemariam Wednesday.

Afeworki Kidanemariam, an uncle, said the family was thinking of Archer, but they also want people to know that Malone has the backing of his family.

His uncle described Kidanemariam, who was born in Massachusetts, as a “very loved, very supported, very smart, very nice kid.”

Stanley Forman/WCVB

Malone Kidanemariam pled not guilty.

“Everybody’s shocked by what happened,” Afeworki Kidanemariam said.

Hailekiros Gebreegziabher, a family friend, said Kidanemariam was active in Ethiopian community activities. “This is a guy who we have known since his birth day,” he said.

After the arraignment, many left the courthouse and held a prayer ceremony outside.

Afeworki Kidanemariam and an Orthodox priest both offered messages in support of the suspect’s family along with Archer’s, according to people who participated.

Supporters who were willing to comment said they did not know anything about the circumstances of the crash, which happened around 3:19 a.m. April 30.

Archer had been riding with another bicyclist, authorities said. Friends have said the well-liked bike courier was returning to his apartment in South Boston after attending a midnight showing of “Point Break,” at Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre.

After the crash, prosecutors said, Kidanemariam “failed to slow or stop” as he drove down Commonwealth Avenue. He turned the wrong way onto Berkeley Street, and eventually made his way into the garage.

It was there that a security guard found the gray Toyota Camry two days later with damage including a cracked windshield. The car was rented from Enterprise under Kidanemariam’s name, police said, and they allegedly found surveillance footage of him driving.

In a statement, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said prosecutors have not ruled out seeking additional charges against Kidanemariam, who returns to court June 1.

If Kidanemariam posts bail, he will be barred from driving.

According to records from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, his license was suspended after the crash. He has two previous incidents on his driving record, both from 2016: a Boston accident in which he was found mostly at fault and a citation accusing him of a lane violation in Roxbury.

Boston, MA - 5/10/2017 - Supporters gather outside after the arraignment. Malone Kidanemariam (cq), of Boston, is arraigned in Boston Municipal Court for the hit-and-run death of bicyclist Rick Archer (cq), 29. A large group of family and supporters were at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse for the 25-year-old, who was ordered held on $25,000 bail. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: 11arraignKidanemariam Reporter: Andrew Rosen

PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF

Supporters of Malone Kidanemariam gathered outside Boston Municipal Court after his arraignment in the hit-and-run death of bicyclist Rick Archer on Commonwealth Avenue last month.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen. Jacob Geanous can be reached at jacob.geanous@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Geanous.
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