This Time, A 7 Year Old Child (Update x 2)

It’s only been two weeks since the video of the February raid by the Columbia, Missouri SWAT team went viral.  It caught fire because of the brutal, pointless, banal killing of the family dog, as cops in helmets and body armor swept into a home with a young child.  The one saving grace, if it can be called that, is that they didn’t shoot the child.  This time they did.

DETROIT – Seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was asleep on the living room sofa in her family’s apartment when Detroit police searching for a homicide suspect burst in and an officer’s gun went off, fatally striking the girl in the neck, family members say.

Her father, 25-year-old Charles Jones, told The Detroit News he had just gone to bed early Sunday after covering his daughter with her favorite Disney princess blanket when he heard a flash grenade followed by a gunshot. When he rushed into the living room, he said, police forced him to lie on the ground, with his face in his daughter’s blood.

First, the flash grenade, designed to stun and disorient the people inside the home.  That the neighbors told them there were children within, and the toys on the front lawn, meant nothing.  They had a warrant and they were going in. 

Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said officers set off the flash grenade as they entered the apartment with their guns drawn about 12:40 a.m. Sunday with a warrant to look for a suspect in the Friday slaying of a 17-year-old boy. The lead officer’s gun went off after he encountered a 46-year-old woman inside the front room of the house and “some level of physical contact” ensued. Police do not believe the gun was fired intentionally, he said.

The story is that the lead officer bumped into Mertilla Jones, Alyana’s grandmother, and his weapon discharged.  There were three other children asleep in the house.  No word on why police thought this might be a good home to raid at 12:40 a.m. on a Sunday night. 

It’s unclear to Alyana’s father what had happened, as he was held on the floor for the next two hours, lying in his daughter’s blood, along with his mother. 

“I saw them (police) running with my daughter out of the house. They had my mother on the floor, and they just kept me there for like two hours,” Jones, 25, told The Detroit News. “I knew it was bad, and they probably had my baby at the hospital, because someone asked me if she had any allergies.

“Her blood was everywhere and I was trying to stay calm, but nobody would talk to me. None of them even tried to console me.”

There’s no mention in the story that police found whoever they were looking for, and you can bet your life that if there was anything to be said that could be used to justify their presence, or smear the character of the child killed, it would have been the first thing out of their mouths.  Instead,

“This is a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude to Alyana’s parents, family and all those who loved her,” Godbee said. “It is a tragedy we also feel very deeply throughout the ranks of the Detroit Police Department.

Not enough of a tragedy, however, to have made the Detroit Police think twice before their late night raid of a home with children inside, going in hot.  When a finger is on the trigger, bullets sometimes come out the other end.  That’s how it works.  And when there are children within, the bullets can strike them.  And when bullets strike children, even little 7 year old girls who like Hannah Montana and Justin Bieber, sometimes they die.  A tragedy?

If the police believed that a suspect was holed up inside the house, one known to have little children dreaming of their future, a couple of patrol cars parked down the street with their eyes on the place would have found him in the morning.  No child would have died so that the lobster shift could play storm troopers.

We often talk of worst case scenario.  The needless death of a puppy is very bad, but this is worse.  Godbee says that this tragedy is very deeply felt by the cops.  Deeply enough to rethink the raid on the next home filled with sleeping children in the middle of the night, and waste all that fine police gear and a search warrant? 

H/T Ed at Blawg Review

Update:  Via Jdog, this article from the Detroit News :

The police “were excited; they were on TV,” said Oak Park attorney Karri Mitchell, who is representing the family of Aiyana Jones. “They didn’t have to throw a grenade through the front window when they knew there were children in there.”

The attempted arrest of a murder suspect at a two-unit house on Lillibridge on the city’s east side was videotaped for an episode of “The First 48,” a reality crime show on the Arts & Entertainment Network, Detroit police spokesman John Roach. He was not immediately available this morning to respond to Mitchell’s allegations that the police operation was influenced by TV production values.

So here was their chance to be heroes on TV, and they were excited.  They wanted to use all the toys and be very dramatic, so the viewing audience would be so very impressed.  And, of course, there would be another fine show on the air to educate the public on the fine work of the officer and sell commercial time.  So many benefits, and such an inexpensive production, provided one didn’t factor in the cost of a 7 year old’s life.

Also confirmed is that there were two units in the building, and the murder suspect was found in the upstairs unit, while Alyana was killed in the downstairs unit.  Still no explanation for why the no-knock warrant would permit a search of both units rather than just the upstairs.

Update 2:  If appears that the family has retained Geoffrey Feiger, no stranger to a criminal courtroom, to represent them against the Detroit Police Department.  If that’s not strange enough, consider Feiger’s first allegation:

 

“It’s not an accident. It’s not a mistake. There was no altercation,” Fieger said. “The bullet was shot from outside the house.”

This is a huge distinction, suggesting the entire “grandma altercation” allegation to be a lie and cover up.  Though why a police officer would have fired the shot from outside is also inexplicable, but Feiger claims, if not a mistake, that it was a deliberate act.  He says he will file suit on Tuesday (why so quickly is also not clear, but likely to keep ahead of the news cycle and keep his face on TV).

In response, Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said:

He said, “If Mr. Fieger has access to any evidence in this case, he must as an officer of the court provide it immediately to the Michigan State Police.”

There’s that “officer of the court” crap again.  If nothing else, you can always count on the cops for saying something silly to pander to public mispreceptions.

H/T Packratt at Injustice Everywhere .

17 thoughts on “This Time, A 7 Year Old Child (Update x 2)

  1. Packratt

    Just about every news source had different details on this case, so it took a while to sort of pull it all together so that it made sense due to the contradictory things being said through the day.

    Just to help clarify some points from what I gathered…

    Indeed, at first they did try to implicate the girl’s grandmother by saying that the shooting was the result of the grandmother struggling with the officer, even going so far to suggest she tried to take his gun, but they have since stepped back from that and said “it might have been just an incidental contact”. The grandmother claims she dropped to the floor as soon as the grenade came through the window so, possibly, that incidental contact was the officer tripping over the stunned grandmother if what she claims is true.

    Police did capture the target of their warrant… in the upstairs apartment according to the girl’s father. The shooting occurred in the first floor apartment and police insist their warrant allowed them to search the entire duplex. Police refuse to specify where they captured the person they were looking for and charges have yet to be filed.

    From what is known so far, it really does seem like this went wrong from the moment the warrant application was written on down through to the time the officer pulled the trigger and then to the time the police started issuing what now appear to be a reflexive “it wasn’t our fault” excuse.

  2. SHG

    Thanks for the update.  The capture of the suspect in the upstairs apartment of a duplex is a very significant detail that calls into question the warrant, the information possessed and provided to the judge, the scope permitted and extent of the failures that resulted in the death of this child.

    As more, and better, information becomes available, I suspect there will be far more to discuss here.

  3. Norm Pattis

    This case has qualified immunity written all over it once the 1983 claim is brought. I hope the estate can get the case to a Detroit jury, but it will be an uphill fight. Why isn’t there a movement for Alyana’s Law, an act limiting the defense of qualified immunity in cases in which a minor is killed by police?

  4. mirriam

    Last week, many of the listserv losers were saying “hey, its just a puppy”. I posted this today to see what excuses they’ll come up with today. I’m sure they’ll be plenty. Luckily for the cops, there isn’t a video.

  5. ZK

    1. All guns are loaded.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target.
    4. Know your target, and what’s beyond it.

    Anyone with a gun should know these rules, live these rules, love these rules. Violate, oh, say, rules 2 and 3, and a 7-year-old might end up dead.

  6. Shawn Plep

    It’s a tragedy every time something like this happens. And it’s not due to lack of training on the part of the officers – it’s due to simple human carelessness and irresponsibility. Is it our justice system’s fault? Not really. Is it the fault of the firearms? Nope. It’s the result of some cops who didn’t use their brains to think about what could happen.

  7. SHG

    Thank you for sharing the opinion of an SEO spammer to the tragedy of a dead child. How nice that you offer your worthless thoughts in order to gain a backlink on a post like this, you worthless piece of shit. I’ve left the link but made it no-follow, so that anyone reading your comment can find out where such a piece of human garbage can be found.

  8. John

    @ZK

    Ditto!

    EVERYONE with a firearm knows these rules…if they have any kind of training or upbringing at all.

  9. Sojourner

    A horrifying tragedy. How can something like this not happen when we cater to cops who ‘feel threatened,’ excusing all kinds of bad behavior every day. The senseless murders of small children seem inevitable when we make policies that suggest shooting dogs when raiding sleeping families.

  10. Jdog

    There apparently is a video. And it’s at least possible that the presence of the 48 Hours crew inspired the Detroit police to be more aggressive.

  11. mglickman

    According to the articleyou linked to it’s not 48 Hours. It’s “The First 48” a “reality crime show on the Arts & Entertainment Network”.

    W.T.F.

  12. Lee

    Thank you for that appropriate response, Scott. I’m tempted to click thru to see if I might be able to cause this guy a bit of misery, but I resist.

  13. Buenzli

    That was actually my first thought when I read this story: “Why the hell did he have his finger on the trigger?”
    A lot of these SWAT teams are just not that well trained. But not even following the most basic rules of gun safety is just pathetic and shockingly unprofessional.

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