Former Nashville police officer pleads guilty in Scrogham case

leonard burch
Leonard Burch

A former reserve Nashville police officer has pleaded guilty in Bartholomew Superior Court 2 to Class B misdemeanor false informing and received probation.

Leonard Burch, 25, Indianapolis, entered the guilty plea as part of a plea bargain agreement that called for an additional Class C misdemeanor of reckless driving to be dismissed.

The guilty plea came two days after the anniversary of the death of Xavier Scrogham, 18, Hope, the motorcyclist who died after Burch began a police pursuit at 11:36 p.m. Aug. 29, 2016 on U.S. 31 north of Columbus.

Burch pleaded guilty and admitted under questioning by Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash that he initiated the pursuit of Scrogham’s motorcycle near U.S. 31 and Lowell Road and called 911 on a cell phone, reporting to dispatchers that the motorcycle had passed Burch going 120 mph.

Burch admitted in court that he knew that to be a false statement and understood the statement was a false report about the commission of a crime.

A Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputy found Scrogham, who had been thrown from his motorcycle, in a field off Sunland Road east of Columbus at 11:43 p.m. Aug. 29, 2016. He had missed a 90-degree turn and struck a telephone pole guy wire, deputies said. He died at the scene from head and neck trauma, according to the coroner’s office.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Coriden sentenced Burch according to terms of the plea bargain, giving him 180 days in jail which was suspended and placing him on probation for 180 days.

Burch was ordered to pay $185 in court costs and probation costs of $200 as part of his sentence, court officials said.

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

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