Grand jury exonerates trooper in fatal crash

November 15, 2018 GMT

PLATTSMOUTH – Members of a grand jury have determined that state authorities did not display any criminal conduct during a high-speed chase that left one man dead this summer.

District Court Judge Michael Smith convened a grand jury Aug. 23 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Lincoln resident Jeremiah Cummings. The grand jury began its work Nov. 7 and rendered a verdict Nov. 8.

Cummings, 40, died from injuries sustained in a high-speed collision at the end of a motorcycle pursuit June 30. The chase lasted approximately seven minutes and went from Interstate 80 in Lincoln to a spot just east of 190th Street on Highway 6 by Greenwood.

A Nebraska State Patrol trooper witnessed Cummings traveling on his sport bike motorcycle between the 27th Street and 56th Street exits on Interstate 80 at 11 p.m. The trooper clocked him at speeds near 110 miles per hour. The trooper activated his emergency lights and sirens and attempted to pull him over. Cummings fled eastbound and left I-80 at the Waverly exit ramp.

The chase went through Waverly at speeds approaching 80 mph. Cummings then accelerated his motorcycle to 120 mph on Highway 6 as he crossed the border into Cass County. The trooper continued the pursuit but was unable to stay with Cummings. The trooper lost sight of the motorcycle shortly after crossing into Cass County.

The pursuit ended after Cummings lost control of his motorcycle near mile marker 330 west of Greenwood. He was thrown from his vehicle after it came into contact with a guardrail on Highway 6. The trooper found Cummings and began CPR in an attempt to revive him.

Greenwood Fire and Rescue personnel, Cass County Emergency Management Agency paramedics and Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies all arrived on scene. They continued CPR for approximately 20 minutes before determining Cummings was deceased.

The principal duty of the grand jury was to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Cummings to see if any crimes were committed by authorities. It is standard protocol to have this type of grand jury anytime a fatality happens in a law enforcement incident.

Special Prosecutor Colin Palm presented evidence regarding the death to the grand jury. Members learned that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, chest, abdomen and extremities.

The grand jury found the trooper operated within the current Nebraska State Patrol pursuit policy in this instance and acted in accordance with his training. They determined there was no evidence to indicate the trooper in any way caused the fatality. The patrol vehicle never came into physical contact with the motorcycle and the trooper was not within sight of the motorcycle when it struck the guardrail.

The grand jury rendered a “No True Bill of Indictment” at the end of deliberations. The verdict was made by a 16-0 margin. Smith then signed an order discharging the grand jury and releasing all members from additional service.

The grand jury issued a report containing the findings and recommendations. The report has been filed with the Clerk of the District Court at the Cass County Courthouse in Plattsmouth. It will be available for public review upon request.