DETROIT — Police who carried out a raid on a family home that left a 7-year-old girl dead over the weekend were accompanied by a camera crew for a reality television show, and an attorney says video of the siege contradicts the police account of what happened.
Geoffrey Fieger, an attorney for the family of young Aiyana Jones, said he has seen three or four minutes of video of the raid, although he declined to say whether it was shot by the crew for the A&E series “The First 48,” which has been shadowing Detroit homicide detectives for months.
Police have said officers threw a flash grenade through the first-floor window of the two-family home, and that an officer’s gun discharged, killing the girl, during a struggle or after colliding with the girl’s grandmother inside the home.
But Fieger said the video shows an officer lobbing the grenade and then shooting into the home from the porch.
“There is no question about what happened because it’s in the videotape,” Fieger said. “It’s not an accident. It’s not a mistake. There was no altercation.”
“Aiyana Jones was shot from outside on the porch. The videotape shows clearly the officer throwing through the window a stun grenade-type explosive and then within milliseconds of throwing that, firing a shot from outside the home,” he said.
A&E spokesman Dan Silberman said neither he nor anyone else from the network would comment about the case, and he denied a request by The Associated Press for the footage.
Detroit police were trying to obtain the film crew’s footage, Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said Monday.
Fieger said the investigation into what happened during the raid “needed to go no further than the videotape.”
“The videotape shows clearly that the assistant police chief and the officers on the scene are engaging in an intentional cover up of the events,” Fieger said. He said more than one camera was recording at the scene, and that the footage includes sound.
Police arrested the target of the raid, a 34-year-old man suspected of killing a 17-year-old boy, in the upstairs unit in the two-family home. Police had warrants to search both properties, and family members of the slain girl were seen going in and out of both on Monday. The suspect has not been charged, and it was not immediately clear what relationship he had to the slain girl.
The case has been handed over to the Michigan State Police to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Monday.
Some, including the slain girl’s family and others, have questioned what effect the cameras may have had on the tactics used to conduct the raid on the home, which had toys strewn about the front lawn on Monday.
Two prominent criminal defense attorneys said they were unaware of past instances when Detroit police used flash grenades in raids when children were possibly present.
“That’s a new one,” said Detroit lawyer Corbett Edge O’Meara. “That does seem to be a pretty extreme measure. It doesn’t surprise me that the police had no concern whether they were endangering the lives of children when they made this raid.”
Attorney Marvin Barnett was more blunt: “I’ve never heard that before in my entire career, that you’ve thrown a flash bomb in a house unless you’ve got an armed suspect and you know there is nobody else in the house.”
“I’d like to know who gave the order to do that,” Barnett said.
Godbee said the department was confident the film crew’s presence had no effect on how the raid was conducted. He said the police department’s use of flash grenades is decided on a “case by case” basis.
“It primarily goes to the severity of the crime and the potential of violence from the offender we’re trying to get in custody,” Godbee said.
He declined to comment on whether the officers involved in the raid were aware children were in the home.
“Our tactics absolutely will be addressed and assessed at the appropriate time,” Godbee said.
The family was left searching for answers. They retained Fieger, a high-powered attorney who also represented assisted suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian, but the girl’s father said he wants to know what led to his daughter’s death.
“They killed my baby, and I want someone to tell the truth,” he said Sunday.
Police have not identified the officer whose gun fired the shot that killed Aiyana. Godbee said he is a 14-year veteran with six to seven years on the Special Response Team, and that he has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The officer was cleared following a nonfatal shooting last summer. Police were fired upon by someone barricaded in a house and returned fire, Godbee said.