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Family Of Motorcyclist Who Died After High-Speed Pursuit To File Lawsuit
Updated September 19, 2016 6:40 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(NASHVILLE) - An attorney for the family of a Hope man who died August 29 after a high-speed motorcycle pursuit by an off-duty reserve Nashville police officer has filed notice to sue the town of Nashville.

The McCain Law Offices announced that it has filed a tort claim notice, or an intention to sue, the town of Nashville over the police chase that started north of Columbus on U.S. 31 and ended with the death of 18-year-old Xavier Scrogham on the east side of Bartholomew County.

Nashville Reserve Officer Leonard Burch is under criminal investigation by the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department for the chase.

The Nashville police say that Burch did not have permission to take the police car that night and that he did not have police powers while he was off duty. Burch has since resigned his reserve position with the department.

According to the tort claim notice, Scrogham's parents, Kalvyn Johnson-Bye and Carleen Scrogham intend to sue Nashville for negligence, negligent entrustment, negligent hiring, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and/or wrongful death. The tort claim notice also asks that the car Burch was driving be impounded for future forensic analysis.

The claim is seeking the maximum amount recoverable by law.

The filing came within a day of the release of dash-camera video that shows then Nashville reserve officer Leonard Burch initiating a high-speed chase in a marked Nashville police car at about 11:36 p.m. Aug. 29 on U.S. 31 near Lowell Road.

In a 911 cellphone call with Bartholomew County emergency dispatchers, Burch says Scrogham passed him going 120 mph. However, Burch later told Bartholomew County Sheriff's detectives that Scrogham did not have a plate on his motorcycle and sped away from him when Burch attempted to stop him.

Describing Burch's pursuit of Scrogham as that of a "power drunk cowboy," McCain says.

Burch, 25, Columbus, was placed on administrative leave after the chase and resigned from the department Sept. 1.

McCain say Scrogham's family watched the chase video.

Part two of the video

"It's heartbreaking to see the last moments of a loved one's life play out like that," the attorney added.

"Social media is saying Xavier was getting what he deserved because he was speeding," McCain says of some public reaction to the incident. "He was 18 years old and he made a mistake. He should not have done what he did. But he was chased by a young man in a T-shirt and shorts in a police car for 20 miles out of the officer's jurisdiction."

Burch lost sight of the motorcyclist at County Road 650E and 25th Street, a short distance from where Scrogham's body was found in a field on Sunland Road. Investigators said Scrogham missed a 90-degree turn and hit a telephone pole guide wire which knocked off his helmet and threw him from the motorcycle.

Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher says Scrogham died at the scene of the accident from head and neck trauma.



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