Flint, MI—The mother of two boys that died following a Pulaski Street house fire, is seeking $50 million from the City and two firefighters involved.

In a Feb. 7, 2023 amended court filing, Crystal Cooper claims her sons, Zy’Aire and LaMar Mitchell, “would still be alive” had the two officers who were tasked with their rescue—Daniel Sniegocki and Michael Zlotek—done their jobs properly.

“If Defendants had actually conducted a primary search of the Pulaski residence for entrapped persons, as ordered, they would have immediately discovered Lamar and Zyaire Mitchell fighting for their lives in their second-floor bedroom,” the filing reads.

It goes on to state if the defendants “had not lied about searching the second story with negative results, emergency responders would not have been dismissed and additional emergency responders would not have been called off” meaning Cooper’s sons “would have had the necessary and equipped medical personnel available to provide life-saving medical treatment the moments they were ultimately discovered.”

The amended suit charges Sniegocki, Zlotek, and the City of Flint with gross negligence and details the timeline of events for the May 28, 2022 house fire in which the boys were trapped.

Ultimately, that day-of timeline concludes with Zy’Aire and LaMar dying as a result of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide toxicity, though both were found alive by other firefighters after Sniegocki and Zlotek claimed to have completed their second floor search.

“There is a high degree of medical certainty that both decedents would have survived had they been discovered during a proper and timely primary search of the dwelling,” the suit reads.

The amended filing also charges the defendants with wrongful death, due process violation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress on Cooper, who, according to the suit, has suffered sleeplessness, increased anxiety, headaches and bouts of depression among other symptoms.

Cooper is being represented by Attorneys Robert Kenner, Jr. and Todd Flood. She is seeking $50 million in damages and attorneys’ fees as well as a jury trial in her case, per the amended suit.

A communications representative for the City of Flint did not return Flint Beat’s request for the city’s legal department or Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s response to the amended filing by press time.

Cooper’s amended suit comes after former Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton, who conducted the investigation showing Sniegocki and Zlotek falsified their reports of the May 28 fire, claimed he was fired from his post for refusing to lie for Neeley. 

Barton announced his own case against the City for wrongful termination in January 2023. According to his lawyer, Arnold Reed, Barton is seeking $10 million in damages in that suit.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....

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