Judge rules in favor of defendants in pursuit crash lawsuit

A judge has ruled in favor of two northern Indiana communities facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a 15-year-old boy who died in a crash during a police pursuit.

Posted: Sep 1, 2020 6:42 PM

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A judge has ruled in favor of two northern Indiana communities facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a 15-year-old boy who died in a crash during a police pursuit.

A Tippecanoe County judge granted a motion for summary judgment last week after Travis Abston Sr. failed to appear at a court hearing on the request by the city of Kokomo and the town of Battle Ground. The Aug. 28 ruling can be appealed, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

Abston sued the two communities last year, alleging that negligence by both defendants had resulted in the death of his son, Travis Abston Jr. of Battle Ground. He's seeking a judgment against the defendants and financial damages.

Abston's son died in a September 2018 two-car crash as he was driving his father's car and being pursued by Kokomo police. An autopsy found methamphetamine in his system.

At the time of the crash, the Kokomo Police Department considered Travis Abston Jr. “possibly armed and dangerous” and possibly intending to injure a person in Kokomo. No gun was found on the youth after the crash.

Much of Abston's lawsuit is focused on the question of whether his son should have been designated as “possibly armed and dangerous.” He alleges Battle Ground Town Marshal Jerry Burk told Kokomo police the teen was or could be in possession of a gun after seeing a 2017 photo on the teen's cellphone of the youth holding a gun.

Both Burk and the town have denied telling told Kokomo police the teen was or could be armed.

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