LEBANON, Ind. – A teenager who was injured during a police chase in 2021 filed a lawsuit naming a pair of local police departments and the driver they were pursuing.
Brittney Crum, then 17, was driving northbound on State Road 39 near the intersection with State Road 32 in downtown Lebanon when a car police were chasing crashed into the side of her vehicle around 4 p.m. on June 8, 2021.
The driver, Jamiah Brown, then 18, was the subject of a pursuit that reached speeds of at least 100 mph. Brown had other passengers in the vehicle, including two children.
Brown ran a red light, according to the complaint, and collided with Crum’s vehicle, sending it into an adjacent parking lot. Crum’s car then slammed into a parked car. The collision brought the vehicle pursuit to an end, although Brown exited the vehicle before police caught her near the crash scene.
Crum suffered injuries after the “violent collision,” according to the lawsuit, including “several orthopedic fractures requiring surgical intervention, organ damage, maxillofacial injuries and a severe head injury.”
Personnel from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and the Lebanon Police Department were involved in the pursuit of Brown. The chase started when a deputy spotted a car that had been reported stolen. Brown didn’t stop, leading to what eventually turned into a high-speed pursuit.
The lawsuit names several defendants, including the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and then-Sheriff Michael Nielsen and Deputy Jonathon Barnes, the Lebanon Police Department and Chief Chad Morgan, and the driver, Brown.
The lawsuit alleges that the departments failed to “develop and implement proper policies and procedures” relating to the pursuit of stolen vehicles and high-speed chases. It also alleges the departments didn’t have the appropriate policies, training and safeguards regarding pursuits.
Because of this, the lawsuit argued, the June 2021 chase was “reckless and posed a high risk of danger to the passengers of the suspect vehicle, other motorists, and pedestrians such that [police] acted with gross negligence and in a manner that shocks the conscious.”
Police failed to close the intersection of SR 32 and SR 39 despite knowing the intersection was in a high-traffic area, creating an “unreasonably high risk of danger” to the public and other drivers, the lawsuit claimed.
Brown, the lawsuit said, drove recklessly and at an “unreasonably high speed,” the complaint said. She also failed to yield the right-of-way, watch for other vehicles or use “reasonable care” in driving her vehicle, putting lives at risk, including those of her passengers and other drivers.
Brown faced multiple charges stemming from the incident. In August 2022, she pleaded guilty to failure to remain at the scene of a crash, resisting law enforcement and auto theft. She was sentenced to 12 years, with 6 years suspended to probation, according to court records.
Crum suffered permanent injuries as well as pain and mental anguish as the result of the crash, the lawsuit said. She’s seeking compensation, attorney fees and all other “just and proper relief.”