Two Detroit police officers, one with a history of covering up improper actions, concealed their role in a fatal car crash on the city’s Northwest side two years ago that left four people badly injured and one dead. The cover up and obfuscation of that night were so complete that the family of the deceased person only learned of police involvement after they were contacted by reporters.
On Jan. 3, 2020, drunk driver Lonell Dixon collided with an SUV after running a red light during a police pursuit, killing his passenger, Miracle Jamerson, a block from her home. No one is denying Dixon is responsible for the crash and the resulting injuries and death, but the cover up of an improper police pursuit has many wondering if the chase that led to the death and injuries was justified. WXYZ has the story:
At 9:30 PM, the officers were headed west on 8 Mile near Telegraph when they saw a blue Saturn Aura heading in the opposite direction. From the police car’s dashcam video, it’s unclear why the Saturn got the officers’ attention, but the squad car does a U-turn and begins to follow.
A report written the next day claimed the car was speeding, but that’s not clear from the video and a sergeant later determined the officers “did not have probable cause” to stop the Saturn in the first place.
But they followed it anyway, according to the dashcam video, and instead of turning on their overhead lights and sirens, the officers turned on their spotlight. Police would later write that it was to illuminate the license plate, but the dashcam shows that before the spotlight was turned on, the license plate was already lit and visible.
Seconds later, the Saturn is seen taking off. It narrowly misses an oncoming vehicle, then almost hits a tree. But still, the officers don’t turn on their lights and sirens, as policy dictates, even though they’re now pursuing the Saturn and reaching speeds of 65 mph.
Why didn’t officers Xhesian Zaimi and Christopher Bush turn on their lights and sirens while speeding through residential streets in pursuit of what they claim was a “suspect?” Especially as they were driving what is known as a semi-marked car, meaning it wasn’t immediately obvious the vehicle was a police cruiser. To the driver, it very well may have seemed a random car was aggressively following them for no reason, a real fear in the city that coined the phrase Carjacking. The only reason for not blasting lights and sirens, WXZY could find when the station spoke to experts, was that the pair didn’t want the pursuit on dash cam. Little did they realize that the cam was already recording.
After the crash, Zaimi and Bush failed to alert their superiors that the crash was part of a police pursuit. It wasn’t until hours later when investigators looked at the dash cam footage that Zaimi and Bush believed didn’t exist before police figured out there was a chase. Then Zaimi and Bush also turned off their body cams, in direct violation of police policy, and didn’t tell anyone that they had a ride along in the car, Zaimi’s cousin.
This isn’t Zaimi’s first time breaking police protocol. Far from it, in fact:
For Officer Zaimi, it was only the latest controversy in a short three-year career at DPD.
He’d already been cited for failing to report a traffic crash involving two prisoners and four times for failing turn or keep on his body camera.
Three of the cases were dismissed and, in a fourth, Zaimi was ordered “informal counseling” that records show he never received.
In the same case, another judge called Zaimi’s testimony “ugly,” “not believable” and “not credible at all.”
“To me, it’s indicative of a supervision problem at that precinct,” said attorney David Robinson. “They are allowing it; they’re empowering him to go out and commit further violations.”
An investigation into the chase and crash concluded the officers were “attempting to conceal the totality of the circumstances behind the fatal crash” and that “none…could easy be considered credible.”
Had they simply followed policy and turned on their lights and sirens, a sergeant wrote,“…the outcome of this incident may have transpired differently.”
Would Dixon have pulled over if he knew it was police behind him and not carjackers or thieves? What was the point of pulling Dixon over in the first place? While he was drunk driving and on a suspended license there is no indication in the dash cam footage as to why Bush and Zaimi pursued Dixon.
Dixon is no angel in this situation, but he wasn’t even given the chance to do the right thing by police, and now an innocent woman is dead and several other people seriously injured. All traffic stops are dumb, but this one wasn’t even really a stop. It was police playing Grand Theft Auto on public roads. Detroit Police declined an interview with WXYZ but released this statement to the news station:
The DPD’s investigation of the motor vehicle crash on January (3), 2020, which included an independent review by the Wayne County Prosecutors Office, remains pending and is nearing completion. Based upon the findings of that investigation, the Department will take appropriate disciplinary action, if warranted. DPD continues its efforts to flag for high-risk behavior.”