Cops Kill a Child While Filming a Reality Show

In one of the most disturbing police-related stories I’ve read about in a long time, a member of a SWAT team gunned down a seven year-old girl named Aiyana Jones in the early hours of the morning as she slept on a couch with her grandmother. The police were conducting a raid on the Detroit apartment she lived in to serve an arrest warrant for a murder suspect.

According to the initial statement by the police, Aiyana was killed when an officer’s firearm just “accidentally went off” while he was involved in a “tussle” with the child’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones. The “tussle” between Jones and the armed intruder was later amended to “some sort of contact.” Jones denies that any sort of contact occurred (Jim Schaeffer, “Hunt for suspect’s Tahoe led to Aiyana’s doorstep, police sources say,” Detroit Free Press).

I suspect that if any “contact” was initiated by Jones, her actions were at least partially motivated by the terror she must have experienced when her sleep was disturbed by the flashbang grenade lobbed through her front window—a grenade which allegedly landed close enough to young Aiyana to burn her—and the group of heavily-armed men that charged into her home uninvited and without warning.

Unfortunately, the ultra-violent incompetents charged into the wrong residence. The man they were attempting to arrest lived in a duplex. They picked the wrong apartment.


Unlike the murder suspect the police were looking for, the officer responsible has not been arrested, charged with a crime, or jailed. The police have assured us, however, that the he has been properly rewarded for his homicidal deed with a paid vacation (George Hunter, Doug Guthrie and Valerie Olander, “Detroit-police-fatally-shoot-7-year-old-girl in house search,” The Detroit News).

Apparently, the officer who fired the shot was Joe Weekley, a frequent guest on reality TV shows about police. Weekley’s team is currently being sued over a 2009 raid in which they allegedly killed house pets and aimed guns at children including an infant (George Hunter, “Cop in Aiyana shooting helped needy kids, sued for earlier raid,” The Detroit News). As it turns out, the police were filming one of  these reality TV shows during the raid.  This means that the raid was filmed and, therefore, that there is some amount of video evidence depicting what happened.

Actually, there may be two videos. Although both pieces of footage have yet to be released to the public, Geoffrey Fieger, an attorney representing Aiyana’s family in two lawsuits, claims to have been given access to the second piece of video. According to a statement he made, the police are covering up what really happened. The video, he says, clearly depicts an officer firing his gun into the home from the porch before any officers enter. He also claims that the police were told about the presence of children by a resident before conducting the raid.

Below is Fieger’s complete statement:

It’s not entirely clear who is telling the truth or why neither of the videos has been released, but I don’t understand why the attorney would risk his reputation lying about the recording. Even if we are to believe the police, it’s clear that this was a senseless and completely avoidable tragedy.

* * * * *

In a story about the incident, ABC discussed the issue of camera crews accompanying police on raids with Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. I was rather surprised to find this sentence in the middle of the piece:

The issue of photographers influencing soldiers’ actions goes back as far as World War I, Thompson says, but free speech has usually prevailed over objections to documentarians traveling with soliders. [Tahman Bradley, “Should Detroit Police Have Had Cameras Rolling When Girl was Shot?,” ABC News]

I was surprised because the article is not about soldiers—it’s about cops. Soldiers are not mentioned prior to or after this passage. It has no context. It’s completely out of place.

Or is it?

If you’ve ever seen the Detroit SWAT team (or any other SWAT team, for that matter) in action, then it probably doesn’t seem all that out of place. Sure, SWAT teams aren’t legally military organizations, but that’s where the differences stop. The officers on the Detroit SWAT team possess many of the same types of weapons, training, and—evidently—the same reckless disregard for human life as American soldiers.

Some commentators, like Grigg and Thompson, have made a connection between the reality TV show the cops were filming and the actions they chose, arguing that the reckless tactics used by the police were probably part of an overzealous attempt to look macho for the cameras. I suspect they are right. A desire to impress the audience coupled with the soldier mindset got the better of these cops; they were living in a testosterone and adrenaline powered fantasy land and it cost a young girl her life.

I plan to follow the story of this family’s lawsuits very closely. And I hope they win every penny they can possibly get. I’m sure they’ll have an uphill battle considering Joe Weekley was not a mere civilian like you or me, but one of Detroit’s finest soldiers in the Holy War on Crime.

  • Rich

    why the cop isnt in trouble is beyond me. i cant gasp the concept of being able to be reckless with a firearm, which results in a loss of life and the people who are suppose to be “protecting” us, are the ones who turn the other cheek. this is crazy…absolutly crazy. and the worst part (besides the little girl losing her life) is that this can happen to any of us. any of us. when is going to be too much? when are we going to stand and say enough? when?

  • Chris Mallory

    So, if I understand the cop’s story, the grandmother was involved in a “tussle” with a cop. Was she tased for daring to touch an exalted employee of the government? Is she facing charges for assault on a government employee? If neither of these has happened, are we really to believe that she came within 10 feet of the cop?

  • Kevin Benko

    It seems to me, at least in the thoughts and attitudes of the cops, that they believe that they are our masters. There seems to be a slave/master relationship at work here.

    Back in the 1980’s, when I could not tolerate being a cop anymore, I didn’t imagine that this attitude amongst the cops could have possibly become as overt and visible as it is today. I truly and honestly thought that, by now, enough people would have said “No more!” to reign the cops in.

    I do not respect cops. I don’t even pretend to respect cops. I am not confrontational, but I don’t treat them any different from the guy at the 7-11 or the supermarket checkout lady (I do treat waitresses better than I treat cops, though).

    Reading this stuff bumps my blood pressure up, and I still feel a bit guilty for being a cop for 6 years back in the 1980s. And when I see this kind of crap that the cops are doing out in the open like this, I still feel the need to apologize… not to apologize for the cops, but to apologize for having been a cop over 20 years ago.

    I am sorry that, once upon a time, I was a cop.
    I quit because everything that the cops have told you about the cops is a lie.

  • Tara

    I really like your statement about slave/master relationship. I have never thought about it that way before but it really does make sense. Thank you Kevin for being honest and I forgive you.

  • Digits

    I argued the same as Grigg and Thompson. To ignore the fundamental effects of what “witnessing” an action does to the “actors” would be a mistake. I feel for the poor girl’s family and only hope the truth can be exposed in this mess.

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  • aspmommy

    REALLY?? Those who are reading this ridiculous article have it all figured out — RIGHT?? Because– it is OK to harbor a MURDERER in your house and put a child ON THE COUCH (while HE slept in a bed) Because that way– the guy who killed the beautiful 17 yr old young man– JUST for looking wrong– would be SAFE!!! I always thought it was a good idea to protect killers!!! LIke they all had a family meeting and said “I know!!” “We will put a CHILD on the COUCH as a SHIELD!!! Great idea!!!” And NOW– because of the “FAMILY” idea– a little girl was lost!! So they think– LETS FILE A LAW SUIT!!! THE NEXT DAY!!! It is like they all said JACK POT!!! That poor child!!! What the HELL was that family thinking!? I can assure you that the officer involved is more invested and more saddened and will be affected for the rest of his life MORE than the “FAMILY” who looked at this as a way to win money!!! If they do I hope to HELL they use it to move the hell out of Michigan!!! GOOD BYE!!! I am so sorry for that beautiful child on so many other levels!!! And WHEN this “family ” wins– I hope the real family of the slain teenager at the hands of the murderer they were harboring will SUE them and GET ALL OF THEIR lair!!

  • Dr. Q

    “it is OK to harbor a MURDERER in your house” — this is where you lost all credibility; the murder suspect was in a different apartment. But that’s irrelevant anyway because it’s not okay to indiscriminately use lethal fucking weapons. Attempting to bring a murderer to justice does not give you the right to recklessly use force.

  • Alphus

    DUDE!!!!! this is fucking horrifying…. and that too in America…….. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave…. Why isnt the Public up in arms about this…. where are the protests… where are the Human Rights Groups????? WHERE FOR GODS SAKE IS THE PUBLIC OUTCRY?????

  • Kellye

    Where are the protests?

    I usually hate being the first person to jump on this bandwagon, but it does occur to me… the little girl is black, her family is black…. safe to say the murderer they were looking for was probably black, also safe to assume most of the people in the neighborhood are black.

    Just another horrible, stomach churning crime in a terrible section of the city where crime runs rampant, and so do the police sent to “protect” the citizenry.

    In the view of the people that don’t live there, the residents are expendable.

  • Bryan

    Black kid, white cop. Nothing to see here folks, just another day in the good ‘ol U S of A.

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  • Jazzy jazz has clazzy class

    You know that cop has to live with that the rest of his life and feels horrible for his mistake every day. As if he really purposefully shot that kid. Your a bunch of hate mongers.