Tort claim filed against town of Nashville over motorcyclist’s death; first step in possible lawsuit

An attorney for the family of the Hope motorcyclist who died after a high-speed pursuit by an off-duty reserve Nashville police officer has filed notice of the family’s intent to sue the town of Nashville.

Merrillville attorney Trent McCain filed the tort claim for personal injury in the death of 18-year-old Xavier Scrogham with the town on Friday on behalf of the teen’s parents, Kalvyn Johnson-Bey and Carleen Scrogham.

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 cell phone call with Bartholomew County emergency dispatchers, Burch said 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 said if a lawsuit is eventually filed against the town, it will also name and include Burch as a defendant since he was employed by the town at the time of the chase. Burch, 25, Columbus, was placed on administrative leave after the chase and resigned from the department Sept. 1, Nashville Police Chief Ben Seastrom said.

McCain said Scrogham’s family watched the chase video.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the last moments of a loved one’s life play out like that,” the attorney said.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.