by Jamilah King
Published 6/3/10 in colorlines.com
Less than three weeks after the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones by Detroit police, attorneys for the girl’s family are alleging an attempted cover-up while the department faces increased scrutiny over what residents call its overly aggressive tactics.
Geoffrey Fieger, the Jones’ family attorney, met with the media this week and showed his own diagrams and autopsy report that says the girl was struck through the top of the head. The evidence bolsters the family’s claims that officer Joseph Weekley shot from an open door, instead of accidentally discharging his gun during an altercation with the girl’s grandmother and hitting young Aiyana in the neck.
Fieger’s attempt is widely believed to be an effort to challenge the department’s credibility. And so far, it appears to be working.
“His expert makes it appear that the shot would have had to come from outside the house; this is inconsistent from the Detroit Police Department version,” Alan Gershel, a former federal prosecutor, told the Detroit Free Press. “Second, by virtue of his own investigation, he caused the medical examiner to change the death certificate. Those are two significant issues.”
Fieger’s not alone. Longtime police accountability advocates in the city are demanding that the department be held accountable for its long history of abuse.
About a dozen residents protested outside of a Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting last week demanding an end to what they call “military-style” tactics used by cops. The Jones’ home was raided in the early morning hours of May 16 by Special Response Team members executing a search warrant for a murder suspect. Officers threw a flash-bang grenade into the home before entering.
When reached by phone last week, Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality told RaceWire that Aiyana Stanley-Jones was merely the latest and most widely known victim of Detroit police aggression. Outside of the last week’s police commissioner’s meeting, Scott urged the officers to join the coalition’s “Peace Zones for Life” effort that focuses on mediation in the city’s neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Detroit residents are dealing with the fallout after sources recently named Charles Jones, Aiyana’s father, as a potential accomplice in the murder of 17-year-old Ja’Rean Blake, whose slaying precipitated the raid that led to Aiyana’s death. Police expect to make more arrests in that case soon.