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No officer wrongdoing found for fatal high-speed chase

Posted: 5:43 PM, Jun 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-25 19:45:59-04

(GREAT FALLS) A coroner’s inquest found no wrongdoing with law enforcement in the case involving a Great Falls man who died after leading deputies on a high-speed chase.

An inquest is required when a person dies while being taken into custody or in the presence of law enforcement.

In the early morning hours of December 12, 2018, a Cascade County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to make a traffic stop in Vaughn.

Tracey Johnston, 46, intentionally backed into the deputy’s car and drove west on Highway 200, according to the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnston reportedly threw objects at the deputy’s vehicle and reached speeds over 100 miles per hour.

“He had free range over the road. At times, he was going on opposite sides and swerving between four lanes,” Deputy Casey Gervais said.

At one point, Johnston stopped and again tried to ram the deputy’s vehicle.

“I instructed him at the time to discontinue the pursuit,” Deputy Jayson Groskreutz said.

The chase continued into Lewis and Clark County where Johnston lost control of his vehicle. He was ejected and died at the scene.

During the inquest, a juror asked a responding deputy why the pursuit was initiated.

“The minute that the deputy’s vehicle is rammed, there’s a use of force that’s against us. If he’s willing to do that to law enforcement, I don’t know what else he’s willing to do to the general public,” Deputy Groskreutz said.