MOORESVILLE — Mooresville Police and a suspect they were chasing hit speeds of more than 110 mph right before a crash left an innocent woman dead, according to records obtained by WRTV Investigates.
The pursuit and crash happened on February 27 on State Road 67 just after 9:37 pm in the evening.
WRTV Investigates obtained dash camera and body camera footage from the police pursuit, as well as the final reports through a records request with the Mooresville Police Department and Indiana State Police.
An innocent driver, Vickie Berry, 62, died from her injuries after the suspect ran a red light and hit Berry’s driver’s side causing her vehicle to burst into flames.
The suspect, Jason Howard, also died from his injuries associated with the crash.
Berry’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Town of Mooresville on September 26.
The lawsuit alleges Mooresville police officers chased Howard at more than 100 mph through “highly populated and heavily traveled” areas even though it “posed an extreme and unnecessary risk of injury and death to innocent motorists such as Berry.”
It also alleges the Town of Mooresville failed to properly train its officers on proper pursuit techniques, failed to observe a crime “other than an alleged traffic violation prior to engaging in a dangerous pursuit,” and failed to adhere to basic traffic safety practices by chasing a vehicle through normal traffic.
The Town of Mooresville responded to lawsuit in court on November 2 denying those claims.
In its response, the Town of Mooresville also denied the officers’ actions were negligent, and denied their actions caused Vickie Berry’s death.
WRTV Investigates has reached out to Caren Pollack, the attorney listed for the town, and she declined to comment.
Indiana State Police investigated the crash and noted officers traveled as fast as 110 mph at times during the pursuit.
Indiana State Police also determined suspect Jason Howard was driving at least 91 and 100 mph “at the beginning of visible skid marks,” right before he crashed into Berry’s vehicle.
Indiana State Police concluded the crash, and its severity can be contributed to Howard’s violations of law including:
- Resisting law enforcement
- Aggressive Driving
- Unsafe operation
- Speeding/Driving at an unsafe speed
- Failure to obey a traffic control device
According to the Mooresville Police Department’s incident report, officers Sgt. David Schultz and Officer E.J. Leap pulled over suspect Jason Howard because he was driving 50 mph in a 55 mph zone, which is five miles under the speed limit.
“There was traffic beginning to build up behind our position as we continued south, and the vehicle did not give any indication that it would be making a left turn at any of the intersections we had passed along the way, as well as the vehicle was not passing any other motorist,” Sgt. David Schultz wrote in the report.
A Mooresville detective also noted in the report that driving under the speed limit and allowing traffic to back up is a common indicator of driving under the influence.
A toxicology report later showed suspect Jason Howard was under the influence of methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of the crash.
Mooresville Police Department’s report also says Howard was on supervised released for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine until 2025, and also had a criminal history including resisting law enforcement and auto theft.
The body camera and dash camera footage shows as the officers tried to conduct a traffic stop, Howard took off, did a U-turn and drove at a high rate of speed going north on State Road 67.
Above is raw dash camera video from a Mooresville Police pursuit that happened on February 27, 2022 on SR 67. Please note, there is no audio for the first 42 seconds of the clip. The pursuit begins 1 minute, 20 seconds into the video. WRTV is pausing the video before the crash, because the raw video is graphic and disturbing to watch.
Surveillance video from a nearby Applebee’s shows Vickie Berry had a green light and was pulling into the intersection from Enterprise Drive onto State Road 67 when Howard hit her vehicle.
Body camera footage shows officers pull Berry out of the vehicle after attempting to put out the fire, and also the officers’ attempts to help Berry.
Mooresville’s police pursuit policy at the time says when officers decide to pursue a vehicle “the immediate danger to the public should be less than the potential danger to the public should the suspect remain at large.”
The policy also states officers have to take into account a variety of factors when deciding whether to pursue a suspect including weather, road conditions and the amount of traffic.
Kerry Buckner with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was named the new chief of police of the Mooresville Police Department in August.
He's replaced Kevin Julian, who was removed as chief and demoted following a March 16 vote by the town council. All five council members were unanimous in their decision.
WRTV reached out to Mooresville Police Chief Kerry Buckner regarding the February 27 police pursuit.
He has not yet agreed to speak with WRTV on camera.
We are also still waiting on answers to the following questions:
- Did Officer Leap and Sgt. Schultz follow the department’s pursuit policy that was in place at the time of the crash?
- Was an internal investigation conducted, and what was the finding? Were Leap and/or Schultz disciplined as a result?
- How has the policy changed since this incident, and can you please provide a copy?