Family files tort claim against Nashville following teen’s death in chase

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. – The family of an 18-year-old who died following a police chase in Bartholomew County took a step toward filing a lawsuit this week.

Xavior Scrogham, 18, died on Aug. 29 after running a motorcycle off a road into a Bartholomew County bean field. He suffered severe trauma after striking a telephone support cable; the teen had missed a 90-degree turn.

The crash happened several minutes after an off-duty reserve officer with the Nashville Police Department, Leonard Burch, called 911 to report that he was pursuing a motorcycle that passed him at 120 miles per hour. The motorcycle didn’t have a license plate.

The ensuing pursuit lasted several minutes. Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said no officers from his department were involved in the chase. Myers also said Burch, who has since resigned, should not have been involved in the pursuit because Nashville Police Department policy forbids reserve officers from performing police actions while off-duty.

The Town of Nashville released a statement Thursday saying Burch did not have police powers while off-duty and lacked permission to have one of the department’s vehicles. Dash cam video from the pursuit was released Wednesday.

Scrogham’s family filed a tort claim notice to the Town of Nashville this week. Such notices are required by Indiana law when suing a government entity. The claim cites negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.

The family’s attorney, Trent A. McCain, issued a statement about the case:

“To hold the Town of Nashville liable, we must show that Burch was acting in the ‘course of his employment.’ Knowing this and in anticipation of a lawsuit, Nashville is disavowing Leonard Burch and throwing him under the proverbial bus.”