New Questions Raised In Case Against Trucker Who Killed LMPD Officer, Family Files Lawsuit
Louisville, Kentucky – The family of a fallen Louisville Metro Police Dept. (LMPD) Detective Deidre “Dee Dee” Mengedoht has filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and the truck driver formerly employed by MSD they say is responsible for her wrongful death.
The lawsuit, filed on Friday of last week by Mengedoht’s family, accuses 60-year-old truck driver Roger Burdette of negligence when he crashed his semi truck into Mengedoht’s cruiser during a traffic stop on Christmas Eve.
Officials say LMPD Det. Mengedoht, 32, was conducting a routine traffic stop, with emergency lights on, along I-64 eastbound at approximately 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve when a semi truck operated by Burdette struck the rear of her cruiser. Det. Mengedoht was inside the cruiser when it was struck.
A field sobriety test was administered to Burdette to which officials said he failed. Burdette denies having had anything to drink that day, but did admit to taking multiple prescription medications. The police arrest report says Burdette “made no attempt to avoid collision with (the) police vehicle.”
Burdette was subsequently charged with Murder and Operating Under The Influence to which he has pleaded “not guilty.”
Additionally, the Mengedoht family’s lawsuit accuses the MSD of not properly employing, supervising and training Burdette. “MSD has an obligation to properly employee supervise, train and retain its employees,” Ron Hillerich, the attorney representing Mengedoht’s mother, said in the suit.
Hillerich told local news outlet WAVE 3 News, “I really want to know what kind of training this man had, how he was supervised because something is inadequate somewhere down the line and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
Also at play in the case is Burdette’s alleged failure to adhere to Louisville’s “Move Over” law. “If you’re approaching an intersection and there’s a police vehicle you move over and slow down,” Hillerich said. “If you see them on the interstate you do the same.”
In response to the suit, MSD spokeswoman Sheryl Lauder says Burdette has been fired and will not make further comments at this time. Mengedoht’s family is seeking damages, lost wages and funeral expenses.
Burdette is currently being held at Metro Corrections on a $200,000 bond. His attorney requested a bond reduction last week during a court hearing, but it was denied by the judge.
Burdette’s Lawyer Argues Case Against Burdette Is Flawed
During last week’s court hearing, the public defender, Amy Hannah, said she did not believe “the Commonwealth can show probable cause.” Hannah argued the case against Burdette was flawed and should not proceed to a grand jury.
First, was the fact the plainclothes officer who administered Burdette’s field-sobriety test was not wearing a body-camera, Hannah explained. Legal experts say the fact the officer was not wearing a body camera makes the case against Burdette more “problematic,” but not insurmountable.
Further, Hannah argued police officials did not draw Burdette’s blood sample in the 2-hour window following the accident required by law. Police admit they were not able to collect Burdette’s sample until more than 3 hours after the the crash.
Legal experts confirm to TNN that it is important for investigators to collect bloodwork in a timely manner, especially in cases like Burdette’s. According to court records, Burdette takes medications for cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as the antidepressant Zoloft.
At issue is determining if the doses of medication in his system at the time of the crash was at or above the prescribed levels. The longer it takes investigators to collect the blood sample, the more inaccurate the results can become.
The judge in the case found probable cause to send the matter to a grand jury. The case against Burdette will be heard in February.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to follow the story.