A Flint firefighter who missed two Black boys in a house blaze, resulting in their deaths, has resigned from the department, a spokesperson for the city firefighters union confirmed to The Daily Beast on Wednesday night.
“He had been looking for new employment for quite some time. He found a job at a different fire department,” the Flint Firefighters Local 253 representative said of Michael Zlotek. “He does not work for Flint anymore.” It was not unclear when exactly Zlotek handed in his resignation.
Zlotek and his former colleague, Sergeant Daniel Sniegocki, both of whom are white, were tasked with searching for victims trapped in the burning house on Pulaski Street in late May. Zy-Aire Mitchell, 12, and LaMar Mitchell, 9, were missed in the search as they slept, with Zlotek and Sniegocki calling an all-clear for their rooms. Another crew discovered the boys seven minutes later, rushing them to a nearby hospital. They died days later.
The city’s fire chief, Raymond Barton, determined in an investigation that Zlotek and Sniegocki later “knowingly made false reports” about properly sweeping the house. Sniegocki resigned his position after the fire, but Zlotek returned to work—after two weeks’ suspension and a course in search-and-rescue training.
Zlotek’s departure was first confirmed to The Flint Journal by a city spokeswoman. A spokeswoman for Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s office declined to speak to The Daily Beast when reached by phone.
In his report, Fire Chief Barton had written he’d determined the best course of action was to terminate both Zlotek and Sniegocki. But after “advisement” from three officials—City Attorney William Kim, Flint’s Director of Human Resources Eddie Smith, and City Administrator Clyde Edwards—the chief reversed course, the Beast reported earlier this month. The decision sparked outrage in the community, as well as allegations of a cover-up by the Neeley’s administration. Neeley, a Democrat, was re-elected to office last week.
Todd Flood, a lawyer for the Mitchell brothers’ family, said he’d heard about Zlotek’s resignation but that “it doesn’t change anything.” He said the family’s legal team expects to file an amended version of their civil lawsuit—initially filed last month against the two firefighters, the city, and the Flint Fire Department—in the coming days.
The Michigan State Police is separately conducting an investigation into the matter, spokesperson Lt. Kim Vetter told the Beast this week. The inquiry is open and ongoing, with plans for its findings to be turned over to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton’s office once completed. Weeks earlier, the Flint City Council voted to pursue its own investigation into the disciplinary actions taken against Zlodek and Sniegocki.
In an interview earlier this month, the boys’ mother, Crystal Cooper, told the Beast: “Nothing’s going to make me feel better. But at least getting justice for my children can be a start.”