Lessons from the Death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones

How aggressive SWAT tactics contributed to the death of a 7-year-old Detroit girl.

On the morning of May 16, a Detroit police officer fatally shot 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in the throat during a police raid on her home. The police were looking for a homicide suspect. They found him in the apartment above the one where Stanley-Jones was shot, where he surrendered without violence. In response, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing cautioned last week not to put the blame squarely on police.

Bing is right. We should also put a good deal of the blame on him. Or, to be fair, on his predecessor, since Bing only recently took office. We should also blame the Detroit city council and the city's police chief. It is the politicians who set the policies that guide the actions of police officers, and it is they who are responsible for overseeing those officers. Even allowing for the fact that the police and the Stanley-Jones family disagree about what happened that morning, there were a number of bad policies that may have directly contributed to the little girl's death. Among them:

The use of the SWAT team.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the police say they had information that their suspect, 34-year-old Chauncey Owens, was armed. He was a suspect in a homicide. If Owens were on a killing spree, knowingly fleeing police, or holed up in the house with hostages, it may have justified using a SWAT team to apprehend him. But it doesn't appear that Owens presented that sort of imminent threat. Police had spotted him earlier in the day outside of the house. It's difficult to understand why the police didn't confront him then or the next time he left. Instead, they waited until the middle of the night to conduct a volatile raid on a duplex, putting everyone inside the property in jeopardy. Geoffrey Feiger, the attorney for the Stanley-Jones family, alleges the police weren't even aware the building was a duplex, and only obtained a warrant for the upper apartment after the raid.

The Stanley-Jones family says the police should have known there were four children in the building. They say there were toys strewn about the yard, and that a cousin warned the police shortly before the raid after seeing police approach the house. I'm not sure it matters if the police knew or not. If they didn't, they should have. And if they did, they shouldn't have used the aggressive tactics. SWAT teams are at their best when they're defusing already violent situations, not when they're creating new ones.

There may also be a history here of Detroit turning to SWAT and its heavy-handed tactics as the first option, rather than the last. The same SWAT team is currently facing several lawsuits. One of them deals with a case where the police were looking for evidence against an armed robbery suspect. They battered their way into a home and fired several rounds at two dogs. According to the lawsuit, the rounds were fired near an infant. The suspect wasn't there.

In the raid that killed Stanley-Jones, the suspect was in the upstairs apartment. The police secured the lower apartment first. If Owens had been heavily armed and predisposed to kill, he'd have had plenty of warning to prepare. So the use of SWAT and early-morning "dynamic" entry escalated the volatility and risk associated with this arrest.

The facts also don't add up. The Detroit police first claimed that Stanley-Jones' grandmother had an "altercation" with Officer Joseph Weekley, who then accidentally discharged the bullet that struck the girl. The police then claimed Weekley had incidental contact with the grandmother. Attorney Geoffrey Feiger now says video footage of the raid shows the bullet was fired from outside the home, though a state police investigation apparently has turned up no support for that allegation.

I'm not sure it matters exactly what happened. Whether Weekley fired out of panic or accidentally discharged his weapon, whether he tripped over Stanley-Jones' grandmother or Stanley-Jones' grandmother thought he was a criminal intruder and confronted him, the panic and confusion reveal just how little margin for error exists during these raids. And the result—Stanley-Jones' death—shows why they should only be used as a last resort.

The use of "flashbang grenades."

Though touted as "non-lethal," flashbang grenades have caused a number of deaths and serious injuries. The devices set off a wave of intense light and sound designed to stun everyone inside of a building long enough for police to enter and secure the premises. They're indiscriminate. Their intended effect is to cause injury to everyone near them. That means they're effectively a form of punishment on people who have yet to be convicted of any crime. And that includes innocent bystanders as well as suspects. And they are explosives, which means there is a very real risk of injury and destruction. Flashbangs have caused second- and third-degree burns, and ignited fires that have consumed houses.

The night of Aiyana Stanley-Jones' death, police shot a flashbang grenade through the window of her home. Her family says it landed on the couch where she was sleeping, ignited the blanket laying over her, and set off flames that began to burn the girl just before she was shot. (The autopsy hasn't yet been released.)

According to the Detroit Free Press, another Detroit-area police department is facing a lawsuit from the elderly couple Leonid and Arlene Marmelshtein, who say police battered into their home and detonated two of the devices during a 2004 marijuana raid. (Police found a small amount of the drug in an adult son's sock drawer.) According to the Free Press, a police spokesman in that case called the use of the devices "entirely appropriate." In allowing the lawsuit to go forward, U.S. District Judge Julian Cook disagreed, writing, "No reasonable law enforcement officer would have considered a confused elderly couple to be capable of producing the kind of tense and rapidly evolving uncertain situation which would require 10 police officers to make split-second decisions, including the use of two flash-bang devices."

The presence of TV cameras.

It's generally a good thing to record SWAT raids on video. Video footage can clear up any confusion or disagreement about what really happened. Video also tends to nudge police into employing best practices—we're all on our best behavior when we know we're being watched. But the raid on Stanley-Jones' home was being documented by cameras from A&E's First 48, a show themed around the axiom that most homicide cases are solved within 48 hours of the killing or they aren't solved at all. There are now legitimate questions about whether the presence of the show's cameras and producers may have pushed the police into conducting a TV-friendly raid without first doing an appropriate investigation of the home they were raiding.

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  • ||

    I am willing to bet it will be a long time and a hard battle before A&E airs that tape.

  • Julian Assange||

    I can host it.

  • cynical||

    If people buy into the fact that the taping caused the cops to act recklessly, could be a lawsuit for A&E. Airing the full, unedited tape in the show or giving the family editorial control of the segment (or something along those lines) could be part of the settlement.

  • Max||

    It will be even longer before the mainstream media have the balls the lay the balme where it belongs--squarely on Ronald Reagan, Drug Warior in Chief. Balko knows that it isn't the SWAT teams per se; it's the war on drugs that they are engaged to fight that's the problem. That war was started by everybody's favorite Thatcher-fucking, astrologer-consulting, market-fundamentalist fuck Ronnie Fucking Reagan!

  • Big Cat Kahuna||

    Thatcher is hot!

  • Enyap||

    Right Max, those SWAT were just following orders.

  • barfman||

    *barf*

  • ||

    Yeah, it is a dead man's fault, over twenty years after he left office.

    Do you blame Woodrow Wilson for our marginal tax rates and deficit? Clearly, that guy should have taken better care of things when he was in charge.

    Troll.

  • ||

    A SWAT raid into the wrong residence to capture a murder suspect was caused by the anti-drug policy of someone who was president 30 years ago... Riiiiight...

    One suspects Max has personal reasons to object to a war on drugs.

  • MrGuy||

    How do you wage a war on an inanimate object? How about enforcing the already existing laws and giving police the tools they need to enforce those laws?

  • Joe||

    First, the man for which they were looking was wanted for homicide, not drugs. Second, Nixon started the DEA and all that it implies. Third, the War on (Some) Drugs began soon after prohibition, not during Reagan's years.

  • ||

    This is as farfetched as some of the foolishness going on in the war on drugs. Former President Reagan cant be held accountable for miss use of leathal force any more than the founders for the right to bare arms

  • Steff||

    I hope they win it. Maybe SWAT will be disbanded, or if not, at least used in genuinely and immediately deadly situations. Instead of basically being a hammer by which to slam the public with at every available opportunity.

  • ||

    If the network has any guts at all, it will make sure the same episode looks at the possibility that the presence of its own cameras contributed to the death of a little girl.

    We all know the answer to this. Add the recalcitrance of Detroit's police to A&E's wet-noodle of a spine and this tape won't see light of day absent a judges order.

  • ||

    Oh, and first two posts, bitches!

  • Joe_D||

    What does that mean?

  • ||

    nothing, really. why do you ask?

  • pygorex1||

    One word for A&E staff close to the tape: Wikileaks

  • His Eminency||

    They're more MNC/federal. This is a job for youtube or PINAC.

  • ||

    Wow, I think its so sad. I hope the little girls father is able to identif the punk cop responsible and deal with him personally!

    Lou
    www.complete-anonymity.at.tc

  • ||

    I'm not so sure that it's fair to call the cop in question a punk. He may well be. But, for all any of us can know he's going to be haunted for the rest of his days by the fact that he killed a little girl. If you want to lay blame, try the political establishment that pushes this sort of thing.

  • ||

    LOL ! I'm a spambot, dumbass. I mean really!

    Lou

    www.complete-anonymity.at.tc

  • CJ||

    That's a bot.
    An on-topic one, but a bot nonetheless.

  • The Gobbler||

    That's a our bot and we love him!

    FIFY

  • ||

    He's dependable and spirited. I'm always glad to have him in our corner.

  • ||

    Gah!! Egg all over my face!

  • People Power Hour||

    OK, if the bot can't call him a punk, I damn sure will. Punk. Actually, to be fair, punk-ass.

  • Joe_D||

    Does this constitute a successful Turing Test?

  • RM||

    It would seem so...

  • Ryan M||

    Does anyone have any theories on how this bot works? More often than not, it is uncannily accurate in its comments... more than I would expect from some spammer's programming abilities at extracting meaning from the article.

  • Andy_D||

    And why did the guy who responded to "Lou" inform himself that he was talking to a bot?

  • ||

    +1
    I thought the same thing

  • ||

    "A&E should air the footage of this raid to show that the violent tactics these shows repeatedly glamorize can and do have tragic consequences."

    If the tape makes the police look like thugs (which I strongly suspect it does), airing it would effectively cancel the TV program. I agree that this is the proper course. But since doing the right thing will likely cost these people their jobs, I don't expect it. Doing so would require strong ethical principles -- atypical for TV, where folks sacrifice personal ethics daily to obtain/maintain any job in the industry.

  • Hunter S. Thompson||

    The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

  • ||

    I got a fax from the real Dr. Thompson in 1995. You know, back before the "suicide"

  • MrGuy||

    You don't think he really killed himself?

  • ||

    This is just so sad, what can you say except, this is Detroit. These officers are not out looking to shoot little girls. The problem is that criminals take up residence amongst innocents and inciting police in a place which could be be mistaken for Beirut.

  • ||

    Criminals have always taken up residence among civilians. They aren't a foreign army. The only thing that has changed is the application of military tactics to police work.

  • Contrarian P||

    I live in Detroit (at least for another month). I work with someone from Beirut. I asked them and there isn't any comparison. Beirut at this point doesn't have near the gun violence rates.

    Still, I do have to say that I do sympathize with the police somewhat. Just a few weeks ago a Detroit police officer, Bryan Huff, was killed while attempting to help junior officers involved in investigating a 911 report of shots fired. He came because the officers assigned to the call were relatively new to the force and he was concerned that they handle the situation safely. He was fatally shot. His partner along with three other officers were also hit but survived.

    I do not condone what happened in the unfortunate and eminently avoidable death of a small child. On the other hand, I know that if one of my fellow officers was just shot dead and I had to go into a house with no idea of who or what might be waiting for me, I might be a little heavy on the trigger finger too. Keep in mind that the SWAT officers were ordered to go in by their superiors. I do not fault them. They did not know what might have been waiting. All they knew was that in the house there was someone wanted in the killing of another man. I fault those who planned the raid, those who passed the ridiculous laws that make those raids possible, and those who continue to support those two groups.

  • Ray Ray||

    Okay, except for the fact that this is supposed to be an elite team of highly trained professionals, and SWAT officers routinely shoot little Corgis. You have to have bigger balls than that if you want to carry around a big gun and be on TV.

    Really, I agree that the policies are the problem, but the SWAT teams aren't the victims in these situations. I hear a lot of "You gotta think of it from the officer's point of view" and not a lot of "Imagine what it must be like to have your home broken into in the middle of the night and your dogs and children killed in front of you."

  • ||

    What you said.

    I am paying for the cop, and I am not liking my employee's actions. I am really not liking being told that I need to have more sympathy...for the cop.

  • MrGuy||

    No sympathies for the police. They attacked the WRONG house! Did you all not read the article?

  • Contrarian P||

    I'm not sure that you can find credible evidence that shooting Corgis is any kind of routine practice. I never said that anybody was a victim in this situation. All I said was that when you introduce a team into the situation whose training is use of combat weaponry in highly charged situations, the likelihood of things like this occurring is large. I am not ready to dump all the blame on the SWAT officers, particularly given the fact that they are the ones who have the potential to be killed on any given work day. I place the primary blame on those who deploy them inappropriately. If you send someone trained to kill, you are likely to get killings.

  • ||

    Admittedly, this is hearsay on my part, but I've read a lot of SWAT stories where the first thing they do is shoot the dogs--including well-documented cases, like Waco, Texas--and most recently, I've read comments describing this as SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). It shouldn't be too difficult to establish that they kill dogs; I'm just too lazy to do it at this moment.

  • ||

    This is just so sad, what can you say except, this is Detroit.

    That seems like the last thing to say about this case. These kinds of violent SWAT raids are happening all over the country every day (and this is hardly the first to have resulted in accidental shooting deaths)--it really has nothing at all to do with Detroit per se.

  • People Power Hour||

    "These officers are not out looking to shoot little girls."

    And you know this how? Because apparently some of them are.

  • ||

    This is just so sad, what can you say except, this is Detroit. These officers are not out looking to shoot little girls. The problem is that criminals take up residence amongst innocents and inciting police in a place which could be be mistaken for Beirut.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Brian,

    The problem is that criminals take up residence amongst innocents and inciting police in a place which could be be mistaken for Beirut.

    Translation from Statist to English:
    "The evil-doers made me do it."

  • ||

    I have to disagree, B. If the Detroit police adopted the US Army in Afghanistan's tactics, the outcome of that raid would have been different. All it takes is rational people setting policy for police methods.

  • Steff||

    This.

  • ||

    Why are those people even allowed to shoot at our pets much less our kids?

  • Ray Ray||

    Not enough public outrage. Too many people thinking it's okay to be trigger happy if you're a cop... because you know... it's a stressful job...

  • ||

    While this kind of story makes for good human interest fare, I think this kind of antigov/antipolice news coverage should be left to leftists. They are the ones who get their panties in a bind when a thug gets killed, and they are the ones who agitate for legalized weed and gay marriage, and things like that. When libertarian outlets sympathize with liberal causes, it lends the liberal movement more credibility. And I'm afraid we only cover this kind of story to make us look more human and "balanced." Bah! Who needs it - liberals hate us, just look at what they're doing to Rand Paul!

    I'd rather read about how BP is getting effed over by BHO than this kind of garbage!

  • Rabbit Scribe||

    "... legalized weed and gay marriage, and things like that..." are core Libertarian values, as is accountability in law enforcement.

    Obviously.

  • ||

    Bull. If they're such hallmarks of libertarianism then why are they policy victories that have been enjoyed by the left and statist Dems? Legalized weed and gay marriage are Dem/liberal goals, not libertarian ones.

    If libertarianism wants to achieve political relevance - and it is about to with the ascendence of the Tea Party movement and politician like Rand Paul - it would be smarter I think to stop pandering to the leftists within the movement. Libertarianism will attract far more converts if it drops the knee jerk cop hating, and hippy drippy fetishes. Just sayin'.

  • Astrid||

    Libertarianism will attract far more converts if it drops the knee jerk cop hating, and hippy drippy fetishes. Just sayin'.

    It would also cease to make us libertarians.

  • ||

    It might help to take a page from the Dems for once. They have no problem sacrificing an ideal here and there for the sake of efficacy. Why should libertarians?

    If getting to tell BHO to STFU, and getting govt. off the back of business were part of the trade off, I would gladly sit by and watch certain BHO constituencies (welfare recipients, gays, druggies) get fucked.

  • Ben P.||

    And that would make you a Republican, but not a Libertarian.

  • Rick H.||

    Bingo. Another GOP shill handing out "friendly advice." Oh, goody gumdrops.

  • Rabbit Scribe||

    That's absurd. There is no cogent expression of the highest Libertarian ideal- self-ownership- consistent with criminalization of cannabis. So what if Team Blue got one right- a stopped clock is right twice a day. Maybe we should embrace pre-emptive war as well, to gain further relevance?

  • Slowburnaz||

    Umm... I've always understood "Libertarians" to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, with the fiscally conservative part taking precedence (read, smaller government).

    This would fall under the socially liberal side of things, would it not?

  • cynical||

    Well, embracing that description:

    This idiot/troll is recommending that libertarians be socially conservative and fiscally conservative.

    If only there was already some ideology that met that description...

  • WTF||

    You apparently are under the whole "left-right" fallacy and believe that every issue lies on one end of that spectrum or the other.

    Libertarianism is not about a particular viewpoint on a particular issue; rather, it's about the proper role for government vis-a-vis the individual.

    Additionally, on what basis do you claim that these things are not libertarian "goals"?

    "Legalizing weed" is not so much a libertarian "goal," as an end result of a libertarian form of government - one in which the individual is allowed to choose for him- or herself what substances to ingest or inhale, so long as doing so does not infringe on the rights of others. You don't have to be a dirty, pot-smoking hippie to see the silliness in the fact that booze and tobacco are legal, but MJ is not.

    And it's not about "knee jerk cop hating" - it's about expecting law enforcement, which USED TO be about "protecting and serving," to be held accountable when it commits grievous - and totally preventable - errors, such as this one.

    In general, it would appear you have "libertarian" confused with "neocon."

  • ||

    I think to stop pandering to the leftists within the movement. Libertarianism will attract far more converts if it drops the knee jerk cop hating, and hippy drippy fetishes. Just sayin'.

    Libertarianism believes that as long as you're not hurting anyone else, the government should leave you alone. Pot, gay marriage - they aren't "libertarian values" per se, but leaving people alone for harmless things is.

  • ||

    Troll.

  • ||

    I'm a libertarian-leaning Republican. I've been familiar with Libertarian philosophy for several years now, and I could clearly say that legalized weed and gay marriage are clearly libertarian goals.

    Having conservative tendencies, these are topics I continue to struggle with as I've become more libertarian over the years. (In the case of marriage, for example, I've come to the following conclusions: get the State out of the business of saying who is married or not; base inheritance solely on contracts (called wills, incidentally); let individuals decide who will or will not be with them in the hospital; etc.)

  • Nash||

    I can't tell if it's a troll or not. I confess to being boggled though.

  • ||

    This isn't rocket science. I've been to Tea Party rallies and town hall protests. I've seen WTO and "truther" protests. They're very different.

    The fact is that the leftists are the ones who have tied themselves to the legalized weed and same sex marriage movements. They keep it going, and view libertarianism as something evil and alien.

    The Tea Party, anti-tax, and Patriot movements would look at you like a giant freaK if you showed up to one of their functions with a sign advocating legalized weed or same sex marriage.

    I understand the value of "blowing off steam" - and maybe a policy paper or news article once in a while helps. But these types of stories keep people away. More free market, pro-law and order and less of this garbage will make the dividing lines clearer. And lead to more relevance as a movement.

  • ||

    The key to libertarianism becoming a success is for us to become Republicans. It's all so simple now! Thanks for lifting the veils from our eyes, kind stranger.

    Now go finish fucking your dead mother until her cunt comes out on your deformed cock like a sleeve.

  • WTF||

    Geezly crow, what a visual.

    Ick.

  • ||

    At least I didn't describe the sound it would make. Sort of a slurping pop.

  • Rick H.||

    Thanks, now I have an involuntary erection.

  • ||

    Actually, I think he might be on to something! Now, if only Republicans can become Republicans...

  • ||

    Hit this bong copper and head for freedom. Oh damn, I gave up my right to remain silent.

  • Marshall||

    The Tea Party, anti-tax, and Patriot movements would look at you like a giant freaK if you showed up to one of their functions with a sign advocating legalized weed or same sex marriage."

    That's because none of these movements are libertarian. Your post implies they somehow are, which means you don't really know what libertarianism is. You may very well be trolling but it is a somewhat believable troll shtick.

    The term libertarian is becoming a tool to reinvigorate already existing political theories. Point in case here: your talking points sound like a Republican's, as someone already pointed out.

    I like to call this new emergence "pop libertarianism."

  • jacob||

    +1

  • Nash||

    I lol'd.

  • ||

    Okay, so libertarianism is about something other than liberty? Wow, I'm really confused.

  • ||

    Ignoring your idiotic suggestion that libertarians become just as shitty sell-outs as everyone else, where the hell do you get the idea that liberals are lining up to condemn the drug war? I know a whole lot more of them who smoke their weed and know nothing about people getting fucked over. Balko and Sullum and Reason and other libertarian outlets are the ones on this. It's not a liberal cause.

  • veelin||

    Pure speculation, but I think one reason straight-up liberals don't let themselves get too concerned about legalizing drugs and the drug war is that the right to self-defense, including gun rights, is tied up with the issue. Most liberals are OK with the state having a monopoly on the means of violence. They are opposed to ownership of guns for personal protection. When the drug war and paramilitary police raids come up, incidents such as the murders of Kathryn Johnston & Isaac Singletary, or Cory Maye's killing of a police officer to defend his daughter's life come up. They don't want to risk saying anything that would seem to support these people's right to keep a gun for self-protection. So they ignore or deflect the discussion.

  • ||

    You might be right, but I think a lot of them just have no clue how common this stuff is. I got a lot of blank looks when I tried to explain the evils of the drug war to a semi-anarchist. He thought I meant prescription drug companies at first.

    The drug war is tied up in a lot of their pet causes, but it somehow never becomes one. Then there's the folks who think they can handle weed, but if it were legal somehow all hell would break loose.

  • veelin||

    I think they lack awareness, for sure. Given the meager coverage these events generate outside their local or regional areas, it's not surprising. But to some degree I think the ignorance is willful. Sometimes I find I can get someone's interest on the issue, but mention of key items like the plight of Cory Maye, or heaven forbid, an interactive map at the Cato site that will blow your mind, and suddenly the eyes glaze or the shoulders shrug and the conversation is over. It's selective avoidance.

    I think the lefty leadership is far more likely to promote medical marijuana than flat-out endorse legalization, or apparently, go out of their way to learn anything about the effects of the drug war.

    And I'm about to start rambling, so I will stop now.

  • Vesman||

    It's easier to hate what you don't understand

  • veelin||

    "but if it were legal somehow all hell would break loose."

    Yeah, either that or they've grown up and don't smoke it anymore, and pot smokers aren't what you'd call sympathetic figures, with the exception of people with chronic and/or fatal illnesses, so it just doesn't seem so important.

    At the same time, it's interesting to bring up the subject of using hallucinogens in psychotherapy, and see how easy it is to shock your buddies from your old partying days, who have just grown beyond that...well so have I but that doesn't mean I've forgotten what I learned from it.

  • ||

    Pot smokers being "unsympathetic" is part of the insanity. Just like those darn moderate drinkers. There would be no need to grow out of weed anymore than growing out of beer if the entire culture wasn't covered in propaganda.

  • jacob||

    Knew it! A "Tea party" liberterian!

    It wouldn't be a stretch to assume that you first heard about Ayn Rand after the '08 election?

  • People Power Hour||

    More free market, pro-law and order and less of this garbage will make the dividing lines clearer. And lead to more relevance as a movement.

    So what? You're saying if your principles are keeping certain people away, then fuck your principles? And that's relevance?

    Hey, a quick question... did you work for the Bush Administration?

  • ||

    There's nothing wrong with law and order. Many libertarians support it. However, exactly how is law and order advanced by shooting a little girl? More to the point, exactly how is law and order advanced by the police using wildly pyrotechnic tactics when there's no real evidence that they are needed? Why would you think that law and order is advanced by the state passing and maintaining laws covering non-violent, non-coercive, non-fraudulent behavior?

  • Contrarian P||

    I believe that in this case, the primary goal was arresting a suspect in a homicide, not a drug bust. The man in question was wanted for the shooting death that day of a 17 year old high school student in front of a store. While drugs may have been a factor in that particular shooting, they weren't the reason for the police raid. I believe that arresting someone wanted for gunning someone down doesn't fall under non-violent behavior.

  • ||

    Point taken and completely fair. Actually, though, I was referencing some of STF's other comments. That said, we have yet to be presented any evidence that a SWAT team type raid was necessary to take the actual suspect in. After all, as the article notes, the actual suspect surrendered without violence.

  • ||

    He sure did.
    Shoot a seven year-old girl in the neck and your real target gets the idea.

  • ||

    Clearly, the fact that "REASON" reported on this tragedy gives use reason to consider where our law enforcement is headed and the opprotunity to make a differance. Thank God for free press!

  • ||

    These officers are not out looking to shoot little girls.

    And drunk drivers are not out looking to run over pedestrians. So?

    The problem is that criminals take up residence amongst innocents and inciting police in a place which could be be mistaken for Beirut.

    Nah, the problem is that the cops don't act like they are policing in a population of innocent people (both de facto and de jure).

    What did the suspect do to "incite" the police into setting this little girl on fire and then shooting her in the throat? Was there something a missed

  • Robespierre||

    "Nah, the problem is that the cops don't act like they are policing in a population of innocent people (both de facto and de jure)."

    +1 and Amen.

  • ||

    The best way to deal with the guilt of killing a little girl? Don't kill little girls. Nips the problem right in the bud.

  • Detroit cop||

    Look, it was the grandmother's fault. The gun just went off. If she had dropped spread-eagle to the floor, like she was commanded to do, none of this would have happened.

    We followed official police procedure. There is an inquest in place to reach that conclusion.

  • ||

    If you have a gun that just goes off by itself, GET A DIFFERENT GUN -- that one's HAUNTED.

    Ever hear this one? "Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy."

  • ||

    Detroit pig, I actually hope you catch a slug and your family dies penniless.

  • ||

    Um, that post was satire.

  • ||

    What?!! You raided the wrong apartment!
    You flashbanged the room blinded and deafened grandma and set her grand daughter on fire and you expect her to overcome her protective instincts and obey the police directions. Your responce is as reckless as your actions!

  • ||

    Take everything that Geoffrey Feiger says with a heaping tablespoon of NaCl. The man is a decent, even excellent ambulance chasing plaintiff's attorney and a shameless attention whore.*

    Aiyana's family is not the kind that will generate a lot of sympathy. This does not excuse the cops' tactics nor does it minimize an innocent little girl's death, but we all know how that works in the court of public opinion.

    * He was Jack Kevorkian's defense attorney for a long while, quitting when Dr. Death became even more outrageous than him. Geoffrey also managed to gain the Democratic nomination for governor in 1994 where he was soundly trounced by John Engler. Think John Edwards with a bad haircut.

  • Radley Balko||

    The Feiger sleaze factor is a point well taken. But he *is* a very good lawyer. Which is what makes me tend to believe what he says about what's depicted in the video. It would be rather stupid of him to lie about something the police could pretty easily disprove.

  • BeavisAndButthead||

    “It’s not an accident. It’s not a mistake. There was no altercation,” Fieger said. “The bullet was shot from outside the house.”

    I don't know Radley, that sounds pretty far-fetched. Saying it was reckless and negligent is one thing, but claiming that shooting the little girl was no accident and no mistake (and therefore was intentional) is pretty sketchy.

  • Rick H.||

    Saying it was reckless and negligent is one thing, but claiming that shooting the little girl was no accident and no mistake (and therefore was intentional)

    There's always "recklessly depraved indifference." That works for me.

  • ||

    Sigh. He is not a good lawyer. He is a loud lawyer. There is an enormous difference.

    But loud is likely useful here, for the time being.

  • turtle||

    Yea, she ain't exactly Natalie Holloway on which Nancy Grace and Greta can focus for years. Of course this case should have more Americans concerned with the growing police state.

  • ||

    Wasn't his brother the lead singer for The Knack?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Better Call Saul!

  • ||

    Alread did.

  • Ann Arborite||

    Fieger taking this could be the "best" (term used reluctantly) thing to happen on the SWAT raid front since the Calvo raid. Many of us are frustrated with the pernicious lack of MSM media coverage of these raids, Fieger seems like he knows how to work at least the Detroit media very effectively, and sometimes the national media as well. I smiled a big smile when I saw his name attached to this, I think the odds that it just fades away quietly just dropped quite substantially.

  • The Gobbler||

    IRON LAW #6

    A bullet to the throat won't extinguish a fire.

  • ||

    Bull Fucking Shit. Arterial spray probably put a little sissy flashbang fire right out.

  • The Gobbler||

    [citation needed]

  • ||

    Well, you provide the house and the little girl. I'll handle the fire and shooting her in the throat.

    I think you'll see the the officer had to shoot her to save the whole building. Some fine split-second utilitarianism on his part. What's one little girl to save a whole family from a fire that you started?

  • Nipplemancer||

    your logic is impeccable. Mayor Bing might be calling you soon with a job offer.

  • Pessimist||

    If you can't stop the senseless shooting of 7-yo black girls in a black city, with a black mayor, black police chief and black city council, you ain't gonna stop them anywhere.

  • Pedantic Pessimist||

    And it's Geoffrey Fieger.

  • Conservative||

    Just another example of black on black violence. What a shame. Damn the liberal policies on crime that allowed this to happen.

  • ||

    What people can't seem to grasp is that just having the same ethnic background as the people you elect to office does not make those people your friend and does not mean they have your interests at heart.

  • ||

    What, you mean all those dead North Koreans, Cubans, Russians, Germans, Cambodians were not kille by greedy capitalists from America? Bullshit!

    Stop now, shameless one, before you dare say that the millions of dead Africans in the past few decades were not killed by colonialism, but rather the violent kleptocracies set up by their countrymen.

  • Tim||

    Will the, ahem, murder of this little girl be given an episode of the "First48"?

  • ||

    Uh, the murder was already solved. The cop did it. Balko should have totally given us a SPOILER ALERT. There's no mystery anymore... no sense air the show, right?

  • Tim||

    LAW AND ORDER: POLICE FUCK UP UNIT

  • Robespierre||

    I would have called it Law and Order:Schutzstaffel.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Unfortunately, this kind of story and the type of police action have become disgustingly commonplace.

    Does it make sense to continue referring to this sort of police action with the acronym "SWAT" when it is no longer particularly special?

  • Conservative||

    Good point. It's more like "Typical Weapons and Tactics", amirite?

  • Sorry||

    So, Typical Weapons And Tactics then?

  • Sorry and Slow||

    God dammit.

  • ||

    How about Commonly Used Negative Tactics. Maybe the teams won't be so popular if they have to wear THOSE t-shirts.

  • Joe_D||

    Does this constitute a successful Turing Test?

  • Hacha Cha||

    All cops should have to wear tiny cameras that are transmitted to the internet for public viewing. Banning the taping of police actions will only protect bad cops and help them deny what goes on and how events take place. They might start to be more careful if they know the whole world is watching. And if they aren't careful, like in this case, at least we'll know what really happened and who is to blame, unlike the untold amounts of wrongful deaths caused by police/SWAT raids that aren't videotaped.

  • AJs||

    With house sophisticated and good on-person cameras are today, there is no good excuse. If police agencies were serious about protecting themselves from allogations, putting away guilty people saving taxpayers millions in law suits/settlements they would do this.

  • ||

    Believe it or not, there are actually small cameras that fit on the tactical rail of modern firearms. They capture the image at the moment the firearm is discharged.

    Now THOSE are pics I'd like to see.

  • ||

    As long as the police don't face more severe consequences, things won't change. Let the cop get a dishonorable discharge from the force, and serve time for negligent homicide. Manslaughter is manslaugter.

  • π||

    Aiyanas death in my opinion is clearly 2nd degree homicide and if nothing else negligent (reckless) manslaughter. Of course nothing will happen and they'll go on with this insanity just like that, as if nothing happened.

    There's always something sick going on anytime governments treat their own citizens with such hostilities and enmities.

    And we just keep voting those responsible back in, it's like we are our own worst enemy hellbent upon our own destruction.

    Vote them all out, every last one of them. We could do no worse if we just held lotteries instead of elections. The old guard must go, they've shown their worthlessness. Time for some new blood, some real "change."

  • normcash||

    Pop-libertarianism. That it. Paul would never cop to true individual freedom like he advocates for business. He has even said he believes in term limits.

  • ||

    ...Detroit police officer, Bryan Huff, was killed while attempting to help junior officers involved in investigating a 911 report of shots fired....

    Well, that's a start. Just a few more thousand pigs to die and we'll be back on a level playing field.

  • You spelled "Emperor" wrong||

    Usually I don't correct people's spelling here, but it's obvious what you were going for. I just thought you should know.

  • ||

    There should never be TV cameras invited along. I would say that the Police department AND the TV show should be sued, for millions!

  • KingCast||

    A tip from a former AAG:
    As to Aiyana and related coverups and aggressive police watch this email:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_meKHGYDNQ

    Read this blog:
    http://christopher-king.blogsp.....bused.html

    Peace.

  • ||

    That 'first 48' concept is such BS. The only reason that most murders are solved in the first 48 hours is because most murders aren't a mystery. Husband kills wife or vice versa, black market transaction goes awry, or other obvious killer commits murder. They could sit and twiddle their thumbs for a month and then go arrest the culprit. The only reason to do it quickly is the villain might get smart enough to disappear. It annoys me to no end that people can be held at the edge of their seats by such a bogus concept. Seriously, do people really think all I have to do to get away with murder is to hide the body for a couple of days?

  • ||

    The concept is actually that solving a murder is EASIEST in the first 48 hours, not that it can NOT be solved after that time period. People dispose of evidence, eyewitnesses forget things, stories change and people disappear after the basic 48 hours are up, which is why it's best to get right on the case. I am an avid viewer of the show and am impressed with how the detectives go about their job.

    I also have never seen footage of a SWAT raid from inside the residence AS IT WAS OCCURRING from this show. You may see outside shots with audio from inside, but never the actual raid itself. Doubtful that they have TV footage of anything pertinent to this case.

    It is an awful set of circumstances, but this article/blog leaves a lot to be desired. The author speaks of the burns, but then says the autopsy is yet to be released, so that's just conjecture. The author also has several theories as to how this little girl was shot, none of them were backed up either. The only thing we know for sure is that a little girl was shot dead during the course of a SWAT raid aimed to capture a known murderer who was also known to be armed. It was a bad raid all around, but until the final report comes out, I will save my judgments on those involved. Only they know what truly happened right now, and they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

  • ||

    The first thing to do is to fire the cop that did the shooting- people get fired every day for not even coming close to killling somebody police are not immune from this action. Second the team leader should be fired, again nothing unusual here people are fired all the time for not doing there job correctly. Lastly the remaing members shoud be removed from SWAT and reassigned to other duties- again some things can't be explained away- accidentally killing anybody let alone a child is one of those things you just can't do- ever.

  • ||

    When I read Blackstone's Commentaries, I was amused to learn that a person can't be arrested in his own home, nor in the presence of the King.

    While we no longer have kings (and we should keep it that way!) I think we should seriously consider bringing back the first tradition: no one should be arrested in their own home.

    This would have the interesting side effect that anyone who refuses to leave the home, to avoid arrest, would be submitting themselves to house arrest.

  • Christian Louboutin||

  • ||

    Hope that some justice gets done hear.

  • ||

    Police Officers aren't trained nor should they be trained to appear in TV shows. It is impossible to determine that A&E TV si responcible for this, and yet it is hard to believe that police raids outside of non police presence would produce the same results

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • ห้องน้ำ||

    It is impossible to determine that A&E TV si responcible for this, There's always something sick going on anytime governments treat their own citizens with such hostilities and enmities.

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