Aug. 29: The body of motorcyclist Xavier Scrogham, 18, is found by a Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputy at 11:43 p.m. after he missed a 90-degree turn on Sunland Road east of Columbus. Investigators said the motorcyclist was pursued by an off-duty Nashville reserve police officer, Leonard Burch, 25, of Columbus, who began the chase on U.S. 31 near Lowell Road. The chase continued through Columbus on U.S. 31 to the east side of Bartholomew County where Burch lost sight of the motorcyclist. Burch was led to the crash scene by other officers and was interviewed. Scrogham died at the scene from head and neck trauma after he hit a pole guy wire, knocking off his helmet and throwing him from the motorcycle, investigators said.
Aug. 30: Bartholomew County Chief Deputy Chris Lane is told by Nashville Police Chief Ben Seastrom and Assistant Chief Tim True that Burch did not have permission to take the Nashville police car on Aug. 29. Lane also was told Nashville police officers determined the dash-camera system in Burch’s car was frozen and Nashville officers were unable to download or preserve the video to the department’s computer server. Seastrom contacted the manufacturer about the camera problem.
Sept. 1: Burch resigns from his reserve officer position with the Nashville Police Department. The Nashville department sends the dash camera to a repair facility.
Sept. 2: Seastrom and True go to the accident scene on Sunland Road and then meet with Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Detective Chad Swank to request a criminal investigation into Burch’s actions. The detectives were asked to determine whether the Nashville Police Department’s policy would allow Burch to enforce laws as a reserve officer when he was not on active duty and whether Burch had the authority to have a marked Nashville vehicle at the time and location of the pursuit — in an adjacent county. Seastrom and True told Swank that Burch did not have police powers while off duty and did not have permission to take the car from the police department the night of the pursuit.
Sept. 6: Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies open a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Burch’s pursuit of Xavier Scrogham.
Sept. 12: A search warrant to obtain a copy of the dash-camera video is requested. The company, located in Maine, was able to provide a video from the recording to Bartholomew County detectives. Bartholomew County Sheriff Department confirms it has interviewed Burch and expects to complete the investigation in another week.
Sept. 14: Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers releases the dash-camera video from Burch’s car, which is in two segments. The first one is 9 minutes and 39 seconds long. After a 4 minute and 35 second gap, when detectives speculate Burch’s flashing lights may have been turned off, deactivating the camera, it resumes and lasts another 25 minutes and 26 seconds. The video shows Burch losing sight of Scrogham’s motorcycle, stopping at county roads 650E and 250N in eastern Bartholomew County, and seeking directions from dispatchers. Officers in marked cars eventually lead him to the accident site.
Sept. 16: Merrillville attorney Trent McCain files a tort claim for personal injury in the death of Xavier Scrogham on behalf of the teen’s parents, Calvyn Johnson-Bey and Carleen Scrogham. A tort claim is a procedural move required before filing a lawsuit against a governmental entity.
Nov. 10: Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash files two misdemeanor charges against Burch — reckless driving and false informing — in Bartholomew Superior Court 2. The probable-cause affidavit accuses Burch of pursuing Scrogham recklessly at a high rate of speed through Columbus and part of rural Bartholomew County.
The affidavit also accuses Burch of making a false statement to a 911 dispatcher that Scrogham’s motorcycle had passed Burch’s police car going 120 mph before Burch began his pursuit at about 11:36 p.m. in the southbound lanes of U.S. 31 near Lowell Road. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
The probable-cause affidavit reveals Xavier Scrogham’s friends, Jacob Mee and Cory Miller, told investigators that the motorcyclist was looking for a police car to outrun the night of the accident. Mee told investigators that Xavier Scrogham gave him his phone and used the phrase “drop a gear and watch them disappear,” saying his friend was obsessed with outrunning a police car. Miller told investigators that Xavier Scrogham used the phrase all the time.
Dec. 1: Burch is scheduled to appear for initial hearing in Bartholomew Superior Court 2, but the hearing is postponed and reset for Dec. 8.
Dec. 8: Burch’s bench trial date is set for Feb. 22 in Bartholomew Superior Court 2 and a pre-trial hearing is set for Jan. 25 in the same court.