Monday, May 17, 2010

7-year-old girl killed in Detroit police raid

A 7-Year-Old's Killing: Detroit's Latest Outrage
By Steven Gray
May. 18, 2010

It often seems that even the most heinous crime fails to move Detroit, a city almost numb to violence. But a series of shooting deaths in recent days have been particularly chilling. The killings have struck across all age groups: a grandmother, a middle-aged cop, a 7-year-old child. This time, outrage is building, but what will it lead to? Is there anything more substantive the city can do to fight gun violence? Can the city afford to put more officers on the streets? The city's reputation for crime needs a turning point — and soon.

The most recent case began last Friday, May 14, when a 17-year-old high school student standing in front of a store in one of Detroit's bleakest neighborhoods was shot by a man twice his age for reasons that remain unclear. The boy, police said, stumbled across the street, collapsed and died. Then, shortly after midnight Sunday, Detroit police officers arrived at a two-story house not far away. (See Detroit kids and their dreams of the future.)

With a warrant in hand, they planned to search the house for the 34-year-old suspect. Officers say they announced their presence and then tossed a flash grenade into the front window of one side of the duplex to disorient the people inside. Then, police say, officers entered the house, where a 46-year-old grandmother in the front room allegedly struggled with an officer. Next, police say, an officer's gun discharged, fatally shooting the woman's 7-year-old granddaughter Aiyana Stanley Jones.

At a press conference Tuesday, defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing Aiyana's family, offered this narrative: The flash grenade was thrown through the plate-glass window of the home's living room, apparently landing on Aiyana, who was sleeping with her grandmother on a sofa. Almost simultaneously, he said, a shot was fired into the house. The grandmother, Mertilla Jones, said Tuesday that as soon as the grenade shattered the window, she leaped to the floor. "I wanted to reach my granddaughter," Jones said, sobbing loudly. "I seen the light leave out her eyes, and I knew she was dead. She had blood coming out her mouth. Lord Jesus," Jones continued, "I ain't never seen nothing like that ... You can't trust Detroit police." Police officers, Fieger said, then rushed through the front door, which was unlocked. (See the death and possible life of Detroit.)

The day before, Fieger, who once represented Dr. Jack Kevorkian, claimed he had seen videotape of the incident filmed by a reality-TV crew that had accompanied the police. He alleged that police, moreover, may have raided the wrong side of the duplex, since the 34-year-old suspect was eventually arrested in another part of the building...

Detroit Girl's Death Called a 'Breaking Point' at Funeral

Ed White
May 22, 2010

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton gave a rousing eulogy Saturday for a 7-year-old girl killed in a police raid, challenging the hundreds of mourners to take responsibility and help stop a spiral of violence that has swept the city...

Aiyana was shot in the neck while sleeping on a couch May 16. Police hunting for a murder suspect say an officer's gun accidentally fired inside the house after he was jostled by, or collided with, her grandmother. A stun grenade was also thrown through a window.

A lawyer for Aiyana's family, Geoffrey Fieger, is suing and claims the shot was fired from outside the house immediately after the grenade was used. A camera crew working on the A&E reality series "The First 48" accompanied police on the raid.

"Do they throw these flash grenades in everybody's neighborhood? Would you have gone in Bloomfield Hills and did what you did?" Sharpton said, referring to a wealthy Detroit suburb. "Have you ever heard of putting on a light and calling people to come out?"...

7-year-old girl killed in Detroit police raid
By the CNN Wire Staff
May 17, 2010

(CNN) -- Police in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday expressed "profound sorrow" at the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl in a police raid.

Aiyana Jones was shot and killed by police executing a search warrant as part of a homicide investigation, Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said in a statement.

"This is any parent's worst nightmare," Godbee said. "It also is any police officer's worst nightmare. And today, it is all too real."

The warrant was executed about 12:40 a.m. ET Sunday at a home on the city's east side, Godbee said. Authorities believed the suspect in the Friday shooting death of 17-year-old high school student Jarean Blake was hiding out at the home. Blake was gunned down in front of a store as his girlfriend watched, Godbee said.

Preliminary information indicates that members of the Detroit Police Special Response Team approached the house and announced themselves as police, Godbee said, citing the officers and at least one independent witness.

"As is common in these types of situations, the officers deployed a distractionary device commonly known as a flash bang," he said in the statement. "The purpose of the device is to temporarily disorient occupants of the house to make it easier for officers to safely gain control of anyone inside and secure the premise."

Upon entering the home, the officer encountered a 46-year-old female inside the front room, Godbee said. "Exactly what happened next is a matter still under investigation, but it appears the officer and the woman had some level of physical contact.

"At about this time, the officer's weapon discharged one round which, tragically, struck 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones in the neck/head area."...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct

The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct
By Graham Rayman Tuesday, May 4 2010

Two years ago, a police officer in a Brooklyn precinct became gravely concerned about how the public was being served. To document his concerns, he began carrying around a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors.
Chad Griffith

At 1.7 square miles, the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of the smallest in the city, but the densely populated neighborhood is also a rough place to work. One cop there recently told us, “It keeps you from getting bored is about all you can say.”

He recorded precinct roll calls. He recorded his precinct commander and other supervisors. He recorded street encounters. He recorded small talk and stationhouse banter. In all, he surreptitiously collected hundreds of hours of cops talking about their jobs.

Made without the knowledge or approval of the NYPD, the tapes—made between June 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant and obtained exclusively by the Voice—provide an unprecedented portrait of what it's like to work as a cop in this city.

They reveal that precinct bosses threaten street cops if they don't make their quotas of arrests and stop-and-frisks, but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics. The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.

As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high "activity"—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.

This pressure was accompanied by paranoia—from the precinct commander to the lieutenants to the sergeants to the line officers—of violating any of the seemingly endless bureaucratic rules and regulations that would bring in outside supervision.

The tapes also reveal the locker-room environment at the precinct. On a recording made in September, the subject being discussed at roll call is stationhouse graffiti (done by the cops themselves) and something called "cocking the memo book," a practical joke in which officers draw penises in each other's daily notebooks.

"As far as the defacing of department property—all right, the shit on the side of the building . . . and on people's lockers, and drawing penises in people's memo books, and whatever else is going on—just knock it off, all right?" a Sergeant A. can be heard saying. "If the wrong person sees this stuff coming in here, then IAB [the Internal Affairs Bureau] is going to be all over this place, all right? . . . You want to draw penises, draw them in your own memo book. . . And don't actually draw on the wall." He then adds that just before an inspection, a supervisor had to walk around the stationhouse and paint over all the graffiti...