Seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was killed during a police raid early Sunday morning. Reports now indicate that the cops were being filmed for the A&E reality show The First 48—and that important evidence may have been caught on tape.
Early Sunday morning, police looking for a murder suspect executed a no-knock warrant on both the upstairs and downstairs units in a Detroit duplex. The Jones family lived in the lower unit. According to police, one police officer became engaged in a confrontation with Jones' grandmother. The officer's gun went off and shot Jones through the neck while she lay on the couch. They found their suspect upstairs, in the other unit.
The second-grader's death has, unsurprisingly, hit Detroit hard. Police actions—like the use of a "flash-bang" grenade—are being questioned, and her family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit. But the most interesting question emerging from the tragedy may be about the presence of a crew from the A&E reality police show The First 48 who were apparently accompanying the homicide detectives on the raid:
The killing of Aiyana Jones during a police raid being filmed by a camera crew for the show "The First 48" raises concerns for some over the relationship between police departments and reality television shows, a relationship that trades exciting video for the promise of positive publicity and improved morale.
The camera crew of "The First 48" was not inside the home on Lillibridge Street when Detroit police detectives, using a no-knock warrant, threw a flash grenade into the home and burst through the door, police said. Moments after the grenade was launched, a police gun discharged, and a bullet struck Aiyana in the neck, according to preliminary accounts.
Now the Jones family attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, is saying that he has video evidence that an officer shot into the house from outside, immediately after the grenade was thrown. Fieger won't confirm whether the video is from the TV camera crew or not.
Professor Steven Chermak, who studies police and the media at Mchigan State, is hesitant to blame the cameras, saying that he doesn't "think it would be a distraction." Karri Mitchell, an attorney who represented the family before Fieger, doesn't hesitate to point fingers at the show, saying that the police "were excited; they were on TV."
The investigation has been turned over to the Michigan State Police.