Hearse for Det. Diedre Mengedoht

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The mother of a Louisville Metro Police detective who was killed when a Metropolitan Sewer District truck crashed into her daughter's police car during a traffic stop has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver and MSD.

Police say 60-year-old Roger Burdette was driving the truck on Christmas Eve when he hit and killed Det. Deidre Mengedoht. He told Louisville Metro Police he took non-narcotic prescription drugs. 

An officer testified earlier this week that Burdette said he was taking medication for blood pressure, cholesterol and depression as well as an antibiotic. Police said Burdette, who was not injured in the wreck, failed a field sobriety test. He was charged with murder and DUI. 

On Wednesday, a Jefferson District Court judge found there was enough evidence to waive the case to a grand jury, where it is scheduled to be heard next month. 

Burdette was fired by MSD on Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit Court by Brenda Stotts-Young, Mengedoht's mother, accuses both Burdette and MSD of being "grossly negligent" and causing Mengedoht's death. 

In the lawsuit, Burdette is accused of negligence by "failing to yield the right-of-way to a police vehicle with its emergency lights fully operational, and in failing to keep a proper lookout ahead, and in failing to change lanes, and in failing to slow down and to keep his vehicle under proper control and not come into contact with Detective Mengedoht's police vehicle and in admitting to police that he had been taking multiple prescription drugs."

MSD is accused of negligence for failing to "properly employ, supervise, train and retain" Burdette.

The lawsuit asks the court to award damages to Mengedoht's family, including money to pay for her lost wages, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, in addition to punitive damages.

On Wednesday, in a probable cause hearing, LMPD Officer Dean Kisling testified that Mengedoht had pulled over a vehicle just after 2 p.m. on Interstate 64 eastbound under the Belvedere.

Kisling, who has watched a video of the collision, said Mengedoht's cruiser and the pick-up were parked in a narrow emergency lane, with neither vehicle able to completely fit in the lane. The pick-up was pulled over for speeding, he said. 

After speaking with the driver of the pick-up, Mengedoht was back in her cruiser when Burdette's semi-truck struck her. The gas tank was ruptured and the cruiser was engulfed in flames. 

While several other vehicles passed Mengedoht's cruiser without problem while she was stopped, Burdette never slowed down or attempted to avoid her, Kisling testified. 

Kisling said Burdette was taking medication for blood pressure, cholesterol, an antibiotic and Zoloft for depression. Burdette told police the antibiotic could cause dizziness. 

"If somebody is impaired on a depressant, it manifests much the same as alcohol, seeing the same signs and, yes, it would impair somebody's ability to operate a vehicle," Kisling testified. 

Zoloft is an anti-depressant. 

Burdette asked for an attorney when he was taken to police headquarters and got a warrant for a blood test. The results were not back by Wednesday's hearing. 

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Amy Hannah, who is representing Burdette, Kisling said he did not record any of his interactions with Burdette on his body camera. And the officer who performed the field sobriety test was in street clothes and not wearing a body cam. 

Kisling said there was no Breathalyzer given to Burdette and the blood test has been to the Kentucky State Police lab where it could take "weeks to months" to get an answer as to what exactly was in his system. 

Hannah argued to Judge Jessica Moore that there wasn't enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury for murder.

"There has been a tragic, horrific collision," she said during the hearing earlier this week. "A detective's life has been lost, but at this point in time I don't believe the commonwealth can show probable cause that (he) was impaired."

But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kristi Gray argued that Burdette also failed the field sobriety test and any medication that impairs driving ability, whether it be an antibiotic or allergy medication, qualifies under the DUI law. 

"It was apparent that he was not able to observe or avoid in any matter this collision," she said. "That's evidence of wanton conduct."

Judge Moore ruled there was enough evidence that Burdette was impaired to waive the case to a grand jury for possible indictment. 


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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.