Family of girl who died in raid sues Detroit PD
Police were looking for a murder suspect — a camera crew for the A&E reality series "The First 48" captured footage of the raid
By Corey Williams
The Associated Press
DETROIT — The family of a 7-year-old girl slain by a police bullet during a raid on their home filed state and federal lawsuits Tuesday against the department, claiming police knew there were children in the home but conducted the raid with guns drawn anyway.
Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney for the family of Aiyana Jones, said Detroit police had no legitimate reason to throw a flash grenade into the home of Aiyana Jones early Sunday. He said police, who were looking for a murder suspect, had the home under surveillance for hours.
"Certainly, they were aware children were living the home," Fieger said at a news conference at his offices in the Detroit suburb of Southfield. He said the other children were ages 3 months, 2 and 4 years.
There were children's toys strewn about the family's front yard on Monday.
Aiyana's cousin, Mark Robinson, told reporters that he was walking the family's dogs when police grabbed him and threw him to the ground.
"I told them, 'There are children in the house. There are children in the house,'" Robinson said.
The federal lawsuit claims police violated Aiyana Jones' constitutional rights and seeks an unspecified cash award of more than $75,000. A four-count lawsuit filed in state court seeks damages of more than $25,000. The amounts the family is seeking in both lawsuits are likely much higher.
Police said officers threw a flash grenade through the first-floor window of the family's home early Sunday, and that an officer's gun discharged, killing the girl, during a confrontation or collision inside the home with her grandmother. They later found the target of the raid, a 34-year-old man, in the apartment upstairs.
Fieger said he viewed three or four minutes of video footage of the raid, and that it shows an officer firing into the home from the porch after the flash grenade was tossed through the window.
The footage shows a group of black-hooded officers approaching the house before the flash bang was thrown through the window and the shot being fired, he said.
"We know there's only one shot. It's vividly depicted in the videotape ... right after the throw and the explosion of the bomb. At that point the officers rush into the home," said Fieger, who also represented assisted suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
Fieger declined to say what footage he viewed and said he did not retain a copy. But a camera crew for the A&E reality series "The First 48" captured footage of the raid, network spokesman Dan Silberman said. The spokesman declined to comment about the case and denied a request by The Associated Press to view the footage.
Michigan State Police are investigating the raid.
Police Chief Warren Evans was expected to hold a news conference later Tuesday. He cut short a vacation and returned to Detroit on Tuesday.
Copyright 2010 Associated Press