Omaha, NE.— As the new head of the State Patrol takes over next month several next steps hang in limbo—six officers remain suspended, an FBI probe is possibly underway and there are calls for a state investigation.
And if that’s not enough the controversial police tactic that started all this is still hard at work.
Nearly a year after a deadly chase and crash in western Nebraska unearthed a controversial chase policy—and possible criminal wrongdoing following an extensive investigation by News Channel Nebraska— troopers remain ready to push fleeing cars off the road using tactical vehicle interventions or TVI’s.
According to a public records request from NCN, the agency performed 6 TVI’s in 2016.
At the same time though further details involving those six TVI’s and any for 2017 were not made available.
Specifically the patrol says it has no records “responsive to your request for TVI’s performed in 2016 and injuries resulting from.” In addition because pursuits are analyzed “yearly” we are told there are no records available for 2017.
News Channel Nebraska’s Joe Jordan, who broke the patrol story wide open in June, reminds us (see exclusive report above) how one high speed chase turned the state’s top law enforcement agency inside-out:
In the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, what started as a relatively routine chase, jumped to higher and higher speeds.
Trooper: “Speed eight-one, eight-one.”
Dispatcher: “Speed at 81.”
It was all caught on the state trooper’s in-car camera and ended in a deadly, controversial crash.
Trooper: “One ejected.”
Dispatcher: “I need a rescue. North of Gordon. One got ejected.”
The car had flipped several times, the driver died and his brother, one of three passengers in the car screamed at the trooper in disbelief.
Victim’s brother: “Why did you f****** ram us?”
Trooper: “I did not ram you. I did not ram you.”
Victim’s brother: “Is my brother dead?”
Trooper: “Your brother is deceased.”
(Victim’s brother screams)
At first Trooper Tim Flick said he had performed a little used police technique, tactical vehicle intervention or TVI, to try and end the chase.
Trooper Flick: “Speed was five-zero, five-zero when TVI conducted.”
Just a few days later, Flick told patrol investigators a different story.
Trooper Flick: “I realize that I did not perform a TVI.”
All this was investigated by a western Nebraska grand jury in Sheridan County which heard evidence that the ejected driver, 32-year-old Antoine LaDeaux, wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was drunk—three times the legal limit.
The grand jury found no wrongdoing, the patrol was cleared. But some jurors were clearly confused about the on-again, off again did the trooper perform a TVI or didn’t he? The patrol’s TVI expert testified the trooper did, but Trooper Tim Flick testified he didn’t.
An in-house email, never seen by the grand jury, but obtained and first reported exclusively by News Channel Nebraska sparked talk of a cover-up inside the patrol.
Internal Affairs Lt. Dennis Leonard, who has since retired wrote this:
“I never thought this likely but I must say that I no longer believe we are capable of objectively investigating our own.”
The governor would eventually release a 15-page review that inferred someone may have lied with “misrepresentations to the grand jury.”
Reporting for News Channel Nebraska I’m Joe Jordan.
Several police and sheriff’s departments in Nebraska tell NCN they find TVI’s too dangerous and don’t use them.