DETROIT (WXYZ) — Nearly three years after two Detroit Police officers engaged in an improper vehicle chase that claimed the life of a 21-year-old woman, Detroit’s police chief has moved to fire the officer behind the wheel.
The pursuit happened on January 3, 2020. Officer Xhesian Zaimi was in the driver’s seat, while officer Christopher Bush was the front passenger.
The fatal chase was the subject of a 7 Action News investigation in March.
The officers were pursuing a Saturn Aura being driven by Lonell Dixon.
Miracle Jamerson, who died in the crash, was in the passenger seat.
Zaimi and Bush were both found to have concealed their role in the fatal accident. In violation of department policy, they never turned on their lights and sirens.
“This was an intentional act to hide what happened by not activating lights and sirens,” said attorney Jim Harrington, who represents Jamerson’s family. “The officers know once lights and sirens are activated, so are the cameras.”
Bush and Zaimi didn’t know it, but their dash camera had somehow been turned on.
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The pursuit ran through residential streets and reached speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. The driver of the Aura, Lonell Dixon, ultimately ran a red light at a busy intersection, colliding with an SUV.
Jamerson died at the scene.
An investigation later concluded that the officers “did not have probable cause” to stop the vehicle in the first place.
After the crash, officers would learn that Dixon was drunk.
In a disciplinary hearing this month with Assistant Chief David LeValley, Zaimi “indicated he had remorse for the violations…and strives to be better.” LeValley wasn’t swayed and recommended that Zaimi be terminated.
Chief James White agreed.
“It takes courage to do the right thing, but then you have to ask yourself: why did it take so long?” asked Harrington, who is preparing a lawsuit against the city.
Officer Zaimi declined to comment when reached by phone.
Because the police union contract entitles him to appeal his termination through arbitration, his employment status is “suspended without pay” until the appeal has been heard.
Officer Christopher Bush, the passenger in the pursuit, was given a “last chance agreement” with the department earlier this year.
“(If) he sustains any misconduct relating to a violation of the Department’s Pursuit Policy within the next two years, he will be fired,” said department spokeswoman Nicole Kirkwood.
Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at email@example.com or at (248) 827-9466.