The family of a 23-year-old Baton Rouge man killed on Florida Boulevard during a September high-speed chase between Livingston Parish sheriff's deputies and another man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office and the fleeing man who struck him.
Reginald Weeden's speed reached 119 mph while deputies pursued him from Walker into Baton Rouge, where Weeden's car struck a vehicle driven by Jonathan Scott, a Baton Rouge police report indicates. Weeden was pursued by narcotics detectives.
"Reginald Weeden was not engaged in conduct which would justify a high speed chase, which endangered the public," alleges the suit filed last week in Baton Rouge state court.
The chase presented a "clear and obvious risk of injury" to other motorists but the sheriff's deputies "failed and/or refused to terminate the pursuit," claims the suit, which seeks damages. Scott died at a hospital after the crash.
Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lori Steele said Friday the office does not comment on pending litigation.
David Bateman, who is representing the Scott family, said Friday that the young man's death and the circumstances surrounding it are equally tragic.
“The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office chose not to train its deputies in high speed vehicle chase procedures and that decision contributed to Jonathan’s death,” he said in a written statement. “It is the hope of Jonathan’s family that his death will not be in vain and our law enforcement officers will be provided with the training they need to not only protect the officers but the rest of our law abiding citizens as well.”
Weeden, 31, of Baton Rouge, has been charged with vehicular homicide by the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office. A January bill of information states that drugs were found in his system after the crash that killed Scott. State District Judge Richard Anderson is presiding over the case.
Weeden remains in custody.
At the time of the fatal Sept. 5 crash, Weeden was free on bail while awaiting criminal proceedings from an Aug. 11 drug arrest.
Weeden was initially booked on a negligent homicide charge in Scott's death and was out on bail on that charge when he was arrested again Nov. 11 on allegations of driving under the influence. An East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy pulled him over driving 70 mph in a 55-mph zone. He was booked on first-offense DWI and drug counts. Methamphetamine crystals and marijuana were found in his car, police said.
The lawsuit against the Livingston Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Jason Ard, Weeden and several insurance companies has been assigned to state District Judge Mike Caldwell. In addition to wrongful death damages, the suit seeks survival damages for, among other things, the mental anguish and emotional trauma experienced by Scott from the moment of the crash until his death several hours later.
Weeden was convicted of manslaughter in 2005 in the beating death of a 55-year-old man.