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« Reality TV Show Crew Was on Scene of Raid That Killed A 7-Year-Old Detroit Girl | Main | You Give Me Life! »
Monday
May172010

Detroit Police Kill 7-Year-Old Girl in "No-Knock" Raid

Seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was asleep on her grandmother's couch when at 12:40 a.m. Sunday Detroit police executed a "No-Knock" warrant on the duplex where she lived. In all the confusion -- it's a no-knock so the police just throw a flash bomb grenade in your house and break down the door, guns drawn -- Aiyana's grandmother either got in a confrontation with or bumped into a police officer and it lead to the officer's gun being fired, hitting Aiyana in the neck as she slept.

How many different kinds of messed up is this?

More after the jump.

From the Detroit News:

Mertilla Jones recounted the horrific death of her granddaughter this evening outside the home where the 7-year-old was killed by a police bullet.

"They blew my granddaughter's brains out. They killed her right before my eyes," Jones said. "I watched the light go out of her eyes. I seen it."

The police were looking for a murder suspect, who they later arrested. Police haven't said whether they found the suspect in the part of the duplex where Aiyana and her grandmother were or if the suspect was in another apartment. But this is the peril of a no-knock warrant. The misconception that a mysterious "show of force" where you don't say you're the police and you just break down a person's front door will lead to immediate compliance -- instead of that a citizen thinking someone has broken into their house to kill them.

There is some despute whether or not the police declared they were the police in all that commotion. The police told the Detroit press that at least one witness may have heard the police announce themselves. I've covered enough crime as a newspaper reporter to know that sounds a whole lot like shoddy ass covering, but hey, someone might have heard it! Of course, the "beauty" of a no-knock is that you DON'T have announce whether you're the police or not, hence why, to me, this sounds like ass covering.

Mind you -- these techniques are actually MILITARY techniques many American police forces have adopted in recent years. Military techniques that were used on a regular basis in Iraq where it took a few years for the US military to realize that breaking into Iraqi homes in the middle of the night, shooting the dog, and dragging husbands and fathers away in their underwear -- usually based on shoddy intelligence -- did not endear them to the general population.

This is usually the no-knock scenario: You're asleep, in your apartment or home, and it's past midnight when suddenly there is a loud crashing noise and flashes of smoke and light and people are breaking down your door with guns drawn and your response is of panic and confusion. You're pretty sure you're about to die, so, naturally, you put up a fight. But as it turns out, it's the police executing a "No-Knock" warrant with a flash grenade. But, ahem, how would you know that if it's past midnight, you're asleep and it just sounds like armed killers are trying to break into your house? How would you know this, especially, if you live in a high crime area where actual criminals DO break into people's houses and accost them?

No matter the scenario, this is a sad situation and why "no-knock" warrants should be illegal. How did it make more sense to raid the house without announcing you were THE POLICE first? How does it make sense to go in, guns drawn, on unarmed people -- let alone a grandmother and a seven-year-old? Don't you make the point to find out who's in the house first before you establish how you're going to rush it? And why would you raid a house in a way that would almost guarantee confrontation? In my home state of Missouri they passed the Castle Law (which is also known as the "shoot the Avon lady" law), where if someone stumbles up on your property and they aren't welcome you have the right to use deadly force if you want to. (That's also legal in Texas, BTW.) So if the police are conducting a no-knock warrant on someone who has a house full of weapons and the police just happen to have the wrong house -- what kind of nightmare are you causing?

Or, you know? You could accidentally shoot a seven-year-old, asleep on her grandmother's couch.

From the Detroit News:

(Detroit Police Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee) speaking on behalf of Police Chief Warren Evans, who is on vacation, Godbee said, "This is every parent's worst nightmare. It's also every police officer's nightmare."

Godbee stressed that information he released was preliminary, and that the police department planned to launch a full investigation. He also said police are not categorizing the shooting as accidental yet, "although we don't believe the gun was discharged intentionally."

I don't know how you can be effective in fighting crime if you keep, with some regularity, causing distrust and disaster among the citizenry you're supposed to be protecting. Often in urban crime areas the police would bemoan how often citizens wouldn't come forward to testify or wouldn't name name's when crime is committed, but given the history, who's really surprised here? If the police kill your neighbor's seven-year-old granddaughter -- whether or not it was an accident -- how friendly are you going to be towards the police? How forthcoming are you going to be with information? How many people are just going to shrug and say they feel they have a better shot with the gangbangers and the drug dealers?

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Reader Comments (35)

This officially ruined my day I have 3 little girls and I can't imagine wht their family members are going thru. The police get away with to much this has to stop and they need to be held accountable.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter25champ

This is terrible I don't know what I would be doing if it were to happen to one of my boys. Terrible senseless tragedy.

Peace, Love and Chocolate
Tiffany

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

I just read this story in my own local newspaper about half an hour ago. It is so tragic for a little girl to lose her life in this way. I have a neice around this age and I would just be no more good if something like this happened to her. My heart truly goes out to this family.

Danielle makes an excellent point about the no-knock warrant. Not only is it generally a bad idea to try to execute a warrant in such a fashion because it almost guarantees confrontation from a scared, confused resident trying to protect themselves and their family, it is an even worse idea in the high-crime areas that they probably do it most in. In spite of all this mayhem, I suspect that crime in Detroit is still out of control.

I understand that the police have a job to do. In spite of the corruption and sheer folly going on in so many big city police forces, I still view them as a very necessary inconvenience. Still I have to wonder, why do they institute practices that are counterproductive to their supposed aim?

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

This is why I don't take pictures smiling with my hand on my hip. Folks who do that either come up dead or come up missing and that exact picture will be what they use to put your reflection out there.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSerenity

Wow, cops sure have been screwing up a lot lately w/ these "no-knock" warrants. Heads might roll if it comes out that the raid was filmed and it goes viral like the botched one in Columbia, MO.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTBI

Can you imagine the uproar if police employed tactics like this at a million dollar estate?
Why is it acceptable for 'uniformed criminals' in lower income neighborhoods to be as much, if not more feared than the 'street criminals?'

It is NOT okay to treat people living below a certain economic threshold or in a particular zip code as if their lives are of no consequence!!

God bless Aiyana's grandmother and family.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe_A

In order for this "no-knock" raid to go down, there had to be surveilance for a few days or hours and they had to know there was a child in there. What kind of guns are they carrying that pop off without someone squeezing the trigger? Another trigger-happy cop. The fact is, the cops were probably scared and fired in fear and now a child is dead. This situation was bound to create fear so maybe they should have been using rubber bullets, there was too many ways for this to go wrong.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

Fieger is saying that the shot came from outside the home. This was done in concert with the cable show "The First 48". So everything would have been filmed.

http://www.freep.com/article/20100517/NEWS01/100517037/1318/

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShady_Grady

*heartbroken* for this family.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdevessel

This is truly heartbreaking. I can't imagine the hurt and pain. They'll deem it an accident. Get on TV say "My bad" and never look back. This is like Amadou Diallo, Eleanor Bumpers...cops just get their guns off AND then get off...with barely a slap on the wrist.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina

It's more messed up than previously thought. The film crew with the cops (and wtf is this the wild west reality tv?!) shows them throwing the flash grenade through the window, and shooting into the house a few seconds later. They totally lied about an altercation, the gun accidentally going off, and everything else. They would not even allow her father to go to her, he had to watch her bleeding for about a half hour. I sincerely hope these cops wake up and go to bed every day for the rest of their lives seeing this child's face, and it drives them crazy and they end up taking themselves out one day. There are no words for how f--- up this is. And I'm sorry i have to say it, this family should not have been harboring a murderer in their home, especially with a child present.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBluTopaz

Last I checked, guns don't discharge on their own. It's a sad day when the murderers of a 7 year old girl are the boys in blue! First pedophiles, now cops. Go Figure!

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSupernoVa

"No knock" is a frightening concept

Yet, I am sure the cop whose gun fired the shot didn't go to work with an intention to shoot a sleeping 7 year old girl.

These policemen will be haunted for life.

In NYC, a cop committed suicide last year after another wrongful death and tragedy. He couldn't live with it.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/11/09/2009-11-09_widow_of_michael_pigott_nypd_lt_who_committed_suicide_over_fatal_tasering_of_ima.html

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterknockoutchick

An outrage and a tragedy.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Wise

@ BluTopaz "And I'm sorry i have to say it, this family should not have been harboring a murderer in their home, especially with a child present."

I'm so very sorry you had to say that too!

You cannot begin to justify murder by blaming the victim's family- in any way, shape, or form.

This was murder. A precious little girl is dead. AND you have no idea what the family knows or did not know about the "SUSPECTED" murder's actions. That's suspected, not convicted murder. The reality TV show is called the First 48 and it follows homicide detectives during the 48 hours after a murder. As the facts come out, your statement becomes even more horrifying. Even with the facts about the conflicting video that you state in your own comments, you still feel compelled to put this tragedy back on Aiyana's family.

What's that about?

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe_A

My heart weeps. My goodness this is so sad.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterViv

You live a Thug Life then don't be surprised if you or the ones that are close to you die a Thug Death. I grieve for that poor little gilr who was born into and had to be exposed to a Thug Life for the short time she was on this planet.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlouis reyna

@The_A

Nowhere in my comment did I say I am justifying murder of this little girl.

If this child's family was protecting someone who they knew is a murderer (of another child)-then the fact remains. No they did not pull the trigger that took her away from them, but the truth is IF they did place her in harm's way that is something they will have to live with. Especially knowing how many cops are trigger happy around Black/Brown folks anyway; you are going to have your baby sleeping in the same house? Of course it does not eliminate the lifelong guilt of whichever cowboy thought it was cool to shoot into a house before entering and NOWHERE did I say that in my post.

But granted, that is a big IF-today there is speculation about whether the captured suspect even came from Aiyana's grandmother's house.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBluTopaz

Snob:

Yes, police can misuse "no knock" warrants but that isn't a reason to stop using them. They have a valid purpose when used correctly.

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I'm still trying to figure out what happened here. In none of the reports do the police say that the suspected murderer was caught in the family's premises - they just say he was found hiding "in the building". The family lives in a multi-unit building. This will be doubly tragic if the family didn't even have anything to do with the suspected murderer (or if they didn't even know he was a suspected murderer).

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandra77

"If

this child's family was protecting someone who they knew is a murderer...

IF

they did place her in harm's way..."

@ BlueTopaz - Thank you for adding two small letters that make a big difference in your statement.

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe_A

@Blu Topaz

The Detroit police have never said that the family was hiding this guy, and they themselves are NOT considered suspects. The grandmother was held for a couple of hours, and then let go because they had nothing on her. It seems they knew absolutely nothing about what the guy did (as it turns out, he was the little girl's aunt's fiancee) and they were after him because he was suspected of murdering a 17 year-old boy last week simply because he looked at him wrong (yeah, that was some stupid s***). The bottom line is, the police didn't bother to ID themselves before they threw the bomb in the house--in fact, it landed on the little girl as she slept on the couch and burned her before she was shot.. This happened at 12:30 at night---the family didn't know what the hell was going on. Turns the police busted into the wrong apartment,anyway---the suspect lived upstairs from them. Basically,there was no justification for putting that family through all that hell, and wind up killing an innocent child for nothing. The family have gotten a lawyer and are going to sue, justifibly, even though,sadly,that isn't going to bring their little Aiyana back. There's a group here in the D called Detroiters Against Police Brutality who usually look into cases of wrongdoing by the cops like this one, but so far their lawyer---media whore Jeffrey Fieger---has told them NOT to talk with any activist groups or anything,so they haven't been able to reach out to them yet.

The other activist group I'm with--Moritorium Now Coalition (www.moritorium-mi.org)---had a rallly near Wayne State Monday morning where the Attorney General Eric Holder was paying a visit. We were joined by a good 20 other people by the time we got through protesting an hour later. Anyway, Detroit Police Warren Evans is looking into what the hell happened, and I'm absolutely sure somebody is going to gt fired over this, dosen't matter if the shoooting was an accident---it shouldn't have happened in the first damn place.

May 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermichelle

The report that I first heard (not sure which network it was) stated that the suspect was hiding 'upstairs in the family's home' and it sounded like it was in a house -not that he was thought to be in a different apartment. I don't know where they got that information from, but my first thought was 'they are going to use that as an excuse for what happened'.

However I do not think anyone is going to get fired. They will come up with something that will claim it was just a horrible tragic accident, and whoever is responsible will keep their job. Even with the cameras catching the entire thing. I would love to be wrong, but this ish has gotten so commonplace each time it's an excercise in watching how the cops cover each other.

May 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBluTopaz

@louis reyna

'Thug Life'? Really?

May 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstrudelcuddy

How tragic, I can only give my condolences to the family. Yes there are times when the no-knock method works and times when it doesn't. For one, this was happening at night-past midnight, most people are sleeping, so I don't understand why using a flash grenade would be useful when their eyes are close-if your trying to blind them. So I can understand when people say if a normal citizen heard a loud burst at the door would defend themselves.

May 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUgaluga

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