A cop killed a sleeping 7-year-old girl in one of those middle-of-the-night, no-knock police raids a few years ago. So far, the only charge that the cop’s still facing is “recklessly discharging a firearm.” The case’s most recent trial on October 10th ended in a mistrial, the same way the first trial concluded. The judge had dropped the involuntary manslaughter charge against him.
On the evening of May 16, 2010, the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team (SRT) prepared for a surprise raid to arrest a wanted man. A surveillance unit had been monitoring the duplex in which he lived throughout the day and a no-knock raid was scheduled for just after midnight.
The raid commenced at roughly 12:40 a.m. The Special Response Team arrived in its armored vehicle with a warrant to arrest Chauncey Owens, who was known to stay with his fiancée at 4056 Lillibridge Street.
Armed with MP5 submachine guns, adrenaline, and an unhealthy fear for officer safety, the raiders shuffled past the toys that littered the front yard and ignored the two distinct street address signs hanging on either side of the shared porch of the multi-unit building; 4056 was on the left, 4054 was on the right.
The raid team was accompanied by an embedded cable TV crew, filming for A&E’s “The First 48.” With full bravado, the SRT put on a display of maximum force for the fans of police-state-adoring reality television.
Without warning, officers simultaneously attempted to breach entrances of two discrete living units of the duplex: the suspects’ location and the neighboring residence. What occurred at 4054 Lillibridge — where the suspect did NOT live — would be devastating.
In mere seconds, masked police officers stormed the porch and smashed the window of the neighbors’ downstairs apartment. They immediately tossed in a concussion grenade and kicked down the door. An officer discharged his rifle, and an innocent little girl named Aiyana Stanley-Jones was dead.
When the smoke cleared, 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was found on the couch, covered with blood, with a gunshot to the head. She had been sleeping on the couch next to her grandmother, Mertilla Jones. A mere 3 seconds passed from the time of the first shouts until officers entered the home. Aiyana was shot in six seconds.
The grenade had fallen directly onto the couch, where it scorched Aiyana’s “Hannah Montana” blanket, and caused Ms. Jones to dive for the floor.
This is yet another case of the police raiding the wrong the house. In this case, it was the wrong side of a duplex.
The suspect for whom they were looking was a murderer, so the police had every right to nab him. But there was no need to turn this into a full-blown military tactical operation. This isn’t bin Laden’s house they were trying to raid.
But because they approached this like a military operation, they treated anyone who got in their way as collateral damage. Sometimes innocent people die in a war. That’s just the way war is.
The cop’s defense was that the child victim’s grandmother reached for his gun, and the gun fired, shooting the little girl in the head. Everyone was asleep at the time of the raid. The grandmother would have had to bolt toward the door and grab the cop’s gun, all in mere seconds in order for that to have happened. And besides that, a forensic examination did not find the grandmother’s fingerprints on the gun; and the grandmother had no gun shot residue on her hands. In other words, the evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, doesn’t support the officer’s story. Yet, the jury was afraid to convict him.