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Ypsilanti officials release details of fatal accident minutes after police stopped traffic


YPSILANTI, MI – Six days after a fatal crash that claimed the life of a Ypsilanti woman and amid speculation it was a “high-speed chase” with police, officials have for the first once published the details of the incident.

Ypsilanti Town Manager Frances McMullan described the sequence of events and shared a police report, providing information usually disclosed by law enforcement. Police officials declined to share details of the case.

Ypsilanti woman killed in accident involving ‘police situation’, but officials lack details

The Friday, Feb. 11 crash occurred minutes after Ypsilanti police officers pulled over a white Jeep Grand Cherokee in an East Michigan Avenue parking lot for failing to use a turn signal, the report said.

The driver of the Jeep, Cushmeer Muhammad, fled from police after an officer got out of his patrol car. Muhammad reached speeds of over 90 mph east on Michigan Avenue before colliding with another car about a mile away in Ypsilanti Township, near a KeyBank branch, the report said. .

The accident killed the driver of the other vehicle, Elisabeth Jeannine Messer, 62, from Ypsilanti.

Officers activated their sirens and attempted to overtake the vehicle, traveling at 80 km/h, but lost sight of it before the accident, according to the report.

“It wasn’t like a chase. (Muhammad) had already come out of the dodge and crashed,” McMullan said.

It was later revealed that the Jeep was stolen in Detroit and Muhammad was ordered to report the previous violations to the jail, according to McMullan.

The city manager said she planned to view dashcam footage of the incident on Thursday ‘to clear my mind’, but the account described in the report adds to the distance between the traffic stop and accident.

Ypsilanti Police Chief Tony DeGiusti has previously disputed claims that the crash involved Ypsilanti police officers.

“There was a fatal accident that is being investigated by the sheriff’s office,” DeGiusti said on Tuesday, February 15. “No YPD officer was involved in an accident of any kind.”

The department did not release a statement or alert the public to the crash, and DeGiusti declined Tuesday to provide further details.

McMullan said she respects law enforcement’s desire to protect sensitive information that could compromise an investigation, but also said she is committed to addressing the fact that little or no information is shared. by the city police department.

“I will definitely try to make this change because it’s not a good perception, it looks like you’re hiding something,” McMullan said.

The city manager offered his condolences to the family of the accident victim.

The getaway driver, Muhammad, was arraigned Wednesday, February 16, from the Washtenaw County Jail on six counts related to the crash.

Muhammad, 37, is charged with one count each of first degree flight from an officer, driving a vehicle without a license causing death, vehicle theft, carrying a concealed weapon, felon in possession of a a Gun and Criminal in Possession of Ammunition, Court Records Display.

Citing significant danger to the public, Magistrate Judge Elisha Fink set his bail at $1 million.

“(Muhammad) was at the time of this offense a federal probation escapee,” Washtenaw County Assistant District Attorney Fawn Armstrong said at the arraignment. “He was ordered to go to jail and didn’t. He admitted to driving over 80 miles an hour in an attempt to flee YPD and when he was arrested the officer found a pint of alcohol in his vehicle and a loaded gun.

Muhammad was due to report to federal custody for trafficking cocaine, according to federal court records.

He was also on probation for a break and enter charge out of Wayne County at the time of the accident and had a pending flight charge from police also out of Ypsilanti from 2019 which is still pending before Washtenaw County Trial Court before Judge Patrick Conlin Jr., court records show.

He is scheduled for a probable cause conference on February 24.

Muhammad has a criminal record primarily containing drug possession and distribution charges, as well as a charge of home invasion and domestic violence which was later dismissed, records show.

For more news on the Ypsilanti region, Click here.

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