(Neb)-OWH Says NSP Panhandle Commander, Field Services Major On Administrative Leave
OMAHA - Citing "sources who spoke on the condition they would not be named," the Omaha World Herald says two of the Nebraska State Patrol officers placed on administrative leave as a result of the agency review that led to the firing of Superintendent Brad Rice were the current and former heads of the Panhandle's Troop E.
Jamey Balthazor was promoted to captain and trooper commander last year after Mike Gaudreault was promoted to major and commander of the State Patrol's Field Services Division in Lincoln. The Patrol has not confirmed that Balthazor and Gaudreault are among the 6 staffers put on leave, a group described as including 2 command level officers.
One of the issues that apparently contributed to Rice's ouster was a high-speed pursuit last November near Gordon that ended with the chased car crashing, resulting in the death of its driver, Antoine LaDeaux.
The pursuing officer, trooper Tim Flick, said repeatedly after the incident that he used a permitted tactical maneuver to bump the fleeing vehicle with the intent of causing it to a spin-out safely. A Sheridan County grand jury later cleared him of wrong doing, ruling the intoxicated LaDeaux was responsible for the accident.
According to published reports, Trooper Flick's story changed during the Patrol's internal investigation, leading to speculation among some in the patrol that it was part of a cover-up. The review that led to Rice's firing cited interference in internal investigations and inappropriate conduct on the part of senior command staff.
LaDeaux's mother, Cleo LaDeaux of Gordon, told the World Herald that she was pleased to hear that Rice had been dismissed and while it won't bring her son back, she thinks " justice should be done for him."
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