There is more to this story now.
Last Updated: May 17. 2010 5:02PM
Crime show taped Detroit raid that led to 7-year-old's death George Hunter and Paul Egan / The Detroit News Detroit
-- An attorney representing the family of a 7-year-old girl shot to death during a Sunday morning raid says the family knows the Detroit police officer who fired the fatal shot is "not a monster" but said the police operation was flawed and influenced by TV production concerns.
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, said Detroit police spokesman John Roach.
Investigators are poring over the videotape the TV crew shot to help determine what happened, Roach said.
He said Charles Jones, the father of the slain girl, lives at one apartment, and the murder suspect was arrested in the other apartment in the home.
"There was nothing but innocent people in the home where they put this flash grenade," Mitchell said.
He said he feels the police have tried to shift the blame for the shooting onto the child's grandmother, and he is unhappy about that. "All they had to do is say, 'We made a mistake and we're sorry,' " he said.
The victim's family said Sunday police told them the gun discharged because the girl's grandmother, Mertilla Jones, 46, grappled for the officer's weapon. Later Sunday, Roach said the officer and grandmother may have simply collided.
"We're not indicating the officer's actions were intentional," Mitchell said. "We know it was an accident, but the method that they used in executing the search warrant was flawed. The family understands that the officer is not a monster. He didn't intentionally shoot a 7-year-old girl."
Police had been seeking a 34-year-old suspect in Friday's slaying of 17-year-old Southeastern High School student Jerean Blake, who was gunned down outside a liquor store near the corner of Mack Avenue and St. Jean.
Witnesses say at least 20 officers were on hand for the raid. A "flash grenade" -- an incendiary device that emits a blinding flash and a loud noise in order to disorient suspects -- was thrown through a downstairs window before at least one officer entered the flat.
Family members say the flash grenade landed on Aiyana, who was sleeping on a front-room couch.
The no-knock search warrant
allowed police to search both the upper and lower flats.
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners has launched an investigation into the matter. The Michigan State Police are also investigating.
"We want to see if the proper procedure and police was used, and what measures can be instigated with regard to policy development that can minimize the future incidents like this," said the commission's chair, Mohamed Okdie.
Police officials were careful Sunday to avoid calling the shooting accidental, or make any other characterizations about the case.
Detroit's Homicide Section regularly featured on "The First 48," which airs on the Arts & Entertainment Network. Detroit Police Officer Ed Williams, who used his service weapon to kill his wife, Detroit Officer Patricia Williams, before turning the gun on himself in the parking lot of a Canton Township library, regularly appeared on the TV show.
The A&E website touts the importance of police catching suspects quickly.
"For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a case is cut in half if they don't get a lead in 'The First 48,' " the website says. "Each passing hour gives suspects more time to flee, witnesses more time to forget what they saw, and crucial evidence more time to be lost forever."
Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said he's never heard of police using flash grenades while executing search warrants.
"That's usually done during barricaded gunman situations, but this is the first time I've ever heard of them doing it for a search warrant," Scott said.
Some of the information above counters the early reports that spoke of someone fighting with the officer. Also, now they are saying that the suspect was in the other duplex and not where the girl was sleeping on the couch. Seems they also tossed the flash bang through the window on top of the girl before accidentally shooting her.
This is a sad situation all the way around. There are way too many instances of no-knock warrants going bad across this country. They need to be severely limited. There is no reason why they cannot ask the suspect to come out with his hands on his head. At this point, he is not convicted and is innocent as far as the law goes.