Trooper reinstated

A dashboard camera shot shows the aftermath of the 2016 crash, with Trooper Tim Flick standing near the car that Antoine LaDeaux had been driving. There were also three passengers in the car.

A Nebraska state trooper who was fired in 2017 for his involvement in a fatal high-speed chase has been reinstated to the Nebraska State Patrol.

On Tuesday, Trooper Tim Flick returned to the patrol in a non-enforcement role as part of a settlement between the law enforcement agency and the state troopers union. A press release from the State Patrol said Flick would be serving “in a different capacity.”

“Trooper Flick is eager to get back to serving the citizens of Nebraska,” the release said.

A State Patrol spokesman said that because of the arbitration settlement, he could not elaborate further on Flick’s new role.

Flick has been at the center of a multiyear controversy that embroiled the State Patrol after he pursued an intoxicated driver on Oct. 3, 2016.

The pursuit began on Nebraska Highway 27 north of Gordon after Antoine LaDeaux, 32, drove through a stop sign and then sped off when Flick tried to pull him over.

LaDeaux, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, died after his car rolled and he was ejected during the chase. Three passengers suffered minor injuries.

What happened during and after the chase and what caused LaDeaux’s car to crash became part of an internal affairs investigation that led to Flick’s removal and discipline against several other troopers and contributed to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ decision to fire former State Patrol leader Col. Brad Rice for allegedly interfering in the investigation.

On a dash cam video, Flick, who had 20 years on the State Patrol, can be heard saying he used what’s called a tactical vehicle intervention, or TVI, to bump LaDeaux’s fleeing vehicle in an effort to cause it to safely spin out.

But the official story changed as supervisors got involved, and the trooper said LaDeaux caused the crash in part by striking the patrol cruiser with his car. Rice, the former top commander, eventually determined that Flick did not use a TVI maneuver.

A Sheridan County grand jury was convened to review LaDeaux’s death. When Flick was asked by grand jurors why his story had changed, the trooper said he didn’t realize until later that he had not used a TVI.

Flick said he turned left into the fleeing car, as a “defensive” maneuver to avoid being pushed into the ditch.

“When he hit me, for all intents and purposes, he actually TVI’d himself using my car,” Flick told the grand jurors, according to a transcript of the testimony.

The shifting narratives spurred debate and tension within the State Patrol. A TVI is regarded as a “use of force” by the patrol, which requires additional reports and investigation to determine if its use was justified. It would also raise more questions about the use of the high-speed tactic.

Flick was fired in December 2017. An internal investigation found him guilty of conduct unbecoming a trooper, involving honesty and the quality of the reports he created after the crash.

On the legal side, Flick was cleared of wrongdoing by the Sheridan County grand jury. A special prosecutor charged him with two misdemeanors, a motor-vehicle homicide charge and making false statements to a grand jury, but a judge dismissed the charges in May 2018.

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