Convicted felon denies cop assault, endangerment in I-90 pursuit

Already a 5-time felon on federal probation
By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, December 26, 2019
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    Zachary James Lozier

A man already on federal probation now faces multiple charges -- including assault on a police officer -- in connection with an alleged drug-fueled high-speed chase on I-90.​

Zachary James Lozier, 36, appeared in custody last week in 22nd Judicial District Court and pleaded not guilty to felony charges of assault on a peace officer, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment and misdemeanor counts of fleeing/eluding, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a suspended or revoked license and a second offense of driving without liability insurance.​

Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde requested that bond be left at $25,000, telling Judge Matt Wald that Lozier is already on federal probation and has a lengthy criminal record. Defense attorney Greg Paskell lobbied for a $5,000 bond, arguing that Lozier had a family, children and possibly a job.​

Wald dropped bond slightly to $15,000, citing the federal probation hold and the seriousness of the current charges.​

According to the Montana Department of Corrections, Lozier’s criminal record includes four felony drug convictions and one forgery by common scheme conviction in two counties.​

THE CASE​

In September 2019, a MHP trooper patrolling in Sweet Grass County saw Lozier’s vehicle on I-90 without a license plate on the front of the car, according to court documents. The rear license plate had expired tags and the brake lights also appeared to be not working.​

The trooper approached the car and noted that the right rear window was broken out and also that the steering column was “torn apart” and the ignition to the car had been “tooled and punched,” leading him to believe it was most likely stolen, according to court documents.​

When asked for paperwork, Lozier said he had just got the car and did not have any paperwork. When he was asked to step out of the car, Lozier “grabbed the gear shift and sped away,” according to court documents.​

A pursuit ensued eastbound, reaching speeds of 95 mph and entering Stillwater County. During the chase, Lozier intentionally cut directly in front of semis in what the trooper believed was an attempt to crash the semis. MHP Trooper Branden Timm, a Columbus Police officer and one Stillwater County Sheriff’s deputy joined the pursuit. MHP troopers from Billings were summoned to help.

Trooper Darvin Mees was able to throw out stop sticks, which Lozier hit after veering his car toward Mees, according to court documents.​

At one point, Lozier crossed the median and drove the wrong way, causing five vehicles to have to take evasive driving action to avoid collisions. At mile marker 428.2, Lozier went off the north side of I-90, went through a fence and came to a stop at a home at the end of the road.​

At that point, Lozier fled on foot into a field, but was captured by Trooper Timm and Sheriff’s Corporal Clay Waltner.

Lozier appeared to be under the influence of a drug consistent with methamphetamine. Found in the car were a scale with heroin, 1.35 grams of meth, two grams of marijuana, multiple cell phones, a black case common to methamphetamine kits, dryer sheets to mask odors, a pipe cleaner and garbage strewn throughout the car, according to court documents.

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