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 thein 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, toldhe had just gone to bed early Sunday after covering his daughter with her favorite 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. “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 .