It’s Jamese Harvey’s job to save lives.
But when it came to the life of her fiance, she spent minutes that felt like hours trying to save him, but couldn’t.
Zaan Scott collapsed and died a month after he was shot and paralyzed.
Harvey works at the Wilson Aquatic Center in Tenleytown, where she is the assistant site lead. Scott worked as a swim instructor at the William H Rumsey Aquatic Center on Capitol Hill.
During those last few weeks Scott and Harvey were mostly by themselves, getting used to their new routine and working on moving into a place that would accommodate Scott’s wheelchair. Scott grew up in shelters, while Harvey grew up in foster homes.
“Zaan showed me how to love,” Harvey said. “And it sounds so cliché, but it’s so true.”
When Harvey met Scott, she says everything changed.
“A real man can change your aura,” Harvey said. “A real man can make you feel things you never felt before and you’ll be ok with it.”
Scott’s proposal to Harvey was unconventional – he proposed with a ring pop. When Scott asked what she wanted – she said a house. He was working on getting them a house when he died.
“We were this close to a house,” Harvey said tearfully.
A house meant stability to Harvey, who said she feels that she will always be a foster kid.
“I didn’t need any amount of karats on a ring to tell me that he was going to be the father of my children or that he was going to be an awesome dad or that he was going to raise our children right,” Harvey said. “So I just wanted a house. A house would have provided the consistency and stability for our kids.”
Before her relationship with Scott, Harvey didn’t plan on having kids. She had settled on being the cool aunt who has the kids for the weekend.
“But then I met him,” Harvey said. “A guy who gives you butterflies just looking at you. And you know you’re going to have his kids, and you want to have his kids.”
Scott was 24 when he died. Harvey describes him as a genuine and goofy person, who didn’t do things for the accolades. Scott was such an avid New England Patriots fan that Harvey wants to put the logo on his tombstone – and is waiting on approval from the team.
Scott and Harvey could relate to each other through their experiences growing up.
He was raised by his grandmother until he was elementary school aged, and then his mother wanted him to be with her.
“He came out of it really strong,” Harvey said.
He graduated Friendship Collegiate Academy in 2011 and received a scholarship to South Carolina State for football. After a year, he realized college wasn’t for him – he came home and learned how to swim so he could join the Navy, but he started working for the District’s Department of Parks and Recreation instead. That’s how Scott and Harvey met – working at the pool together.
Scott was shot on April 9 at around 9:00 p.m., close to the apartment he shared with Harvey.
That morning, Harvey and Scott had a conversation about maintaining their individuality in their relationship.
“Once Zaan and I got together it became Zaan and Jamese. Jamese and Zaan. We were never separate but equal, we were never even separate,” Harvey said. “But we have two different very strong personalities.”
They decided that they would spend they day how they would normally spend it if they were not together. Scott went to a baseball game with some friends, then he went to a bar, and then they played some playstation. Harvey stayed at the apartment and did laundry.
Around 8:30, she texted him to ask if he was hungry and when he was coming home. Scott said that he would be home soon, and that Harvey should order something to eat. Harvey ordered IHOP.
At 8:45, Scott texted Harvey that he was buying something to drink from the store. At 8:50, he called to double check what she wanted from the store.
By 9:00, Scott called Harvey to tell her he had just been shot. She thought he was joking.
Harvey looked outside and couldn’t see anything. She went back inside. She saw a firetruck and several police cars. Not even three minutes had passed since his phone call.
When Scott was shot, he couldn’t feel his feet. A bus driver had to stop traffic and wave people down to help him. An officer from MPD was in the area.
“That was the fourth day out of two years six months and ten days that we spent apart and I regret that day,” Harvey said. “We only spent the day apart because I felt like I was losing sight of who Jamese was before Jamese and Zaan.”
They spent a lot of time in rehab and hospitals after the shooting. Scott was in rehab for four weeks.
“The first night after we left rehab was so hard we cried together,” Harvey said. “It was so much work.”
Harvey was overwhelmed, but they made it work.
They spent $5,000 transforming their hotel room into a hospital room.
“It was us until the end of the world. We did it.” Harvey said.
While Scott was in rehab, Harvey was still paying rent on the apartment but sleeping in the hospital. When he was discharged from rehab they had to live in a hotel because their apartment was not ADA compliant or wheelchair accessible.
On the day Scott died, they were being followed around by a Washington Post reporter, Petula Dvorak, and her photographer, Marvin Joseph.
They had talked to Dvorak for two hours. The photographer wanted action shots of their new normal – which consisted of transferring Scott from wheelchair to car and vice versa.
“Our new normal was complicated, but it was very much doable,” Harvey said.
Scott passed out while transferring from the wheelchair to the passenger side of Harvey’s car. He died while Harvey was giving him compressions.
“I don’t think anyone knows how it feels to be so broken,” Harvey said.
She has a psychiatrist now and is taking antidepressants.
“Every day is a struggle. I feel bad thinking, I’d rather not be here, I’d rather just be with my man. But I know he would want better for me,” Harvey said.
Months after Scott was shot, his death was ruled a homicide.
According to the MPD, there are no updates and the case remains under investigation.
“A trial would genuinely be too much for me,” Harvey said. “But I’ll do it. I’ll do it for my man.”
To those who have any information on Scott’s death, Harvey pleads for compassion.
“We were two young people in love waiting to start our lives, and if you have any compassion or empathy or sympathy in your heart then you would help me lay my man to rest as you would want your man laid to rest,” Harvey said.
It’s hard for Harvey to accept that Scott is gone and the idea that she might love again.
“Twice is hard when someone is twice as good,” Harvey said. “…he could have been so much more.”