How do you shoot a little girl through the head and still have a job as a police officer? Answer: you live in America. If you thought the
phenomenon of police breaking down the doors to wrong addresses and shooting innocent people is a new thing, then maybe you
forgot about Aiyana Jones in Detroit in 2010.
7 year old Aiyana Jones was asleep on the couch when SWAT officers kicked open the unlocked door of her family’s apartment,
burned her with a stun grenade, and shot her through the head in what officials describe as an accident.
The police had been hunting a murder suspect who lived in the building, Chauncey Owens. Owens was suspected in a nearby
murder just 2 days prior and lived in and apartment upstairs from the Jones family. He was later apprehended.
But how does a trained SWAT team justify busting into a residence at midnight and murdering a 7 year old girl? Any way they can.
The police department tried out all manner of excuses, including at one point claiming that the victim’s grandmother swatted at
Weekley’s weapon, causing it to discharge. This was not supported by evidence.
Perhaps the most egregious aspect of this preventable tragedy was that the aggressive tactics of these officers might’ve been done
in the spirit of making “good television.” See, A & E was filming an episode of The First 48 and were attached to the SWAT unit that
would enter the Jones apartment and kill 7 year old Aiyana. The use of the stun grenade, a highly uncommon tactic in murder
suspect apprehension, might’ve been decided upon simply to put on a better show for the cameras. Weekley, the officer who shot
Jones, says he was partially blinded by the stun grenade and didn’t have a good view of the person on the couch. Blinded by his
own stun grenade. What I don’t understand is that if his view was so obscured, that seems like all the more reason to hold your fire.
So, why did he shoot?
Officer Weekley was eventually was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun, but, after a
couple mistrials, charges were eventually dropped against Weekley. He went as far as admitting that it was his gun that fired the
fatal shot, but that it was not intentional. There’s a riddle for the “guns don’t kill people” crowd. I guess guns only kill people if you’re
trying to excuse a killer from his actions.
But, Officer Weekley is still employed. Still a cop. Just riding a desk now.
Why the police chose to break down the door of the first floor Jones residence is unknown. They seem to have a penchant for
breaking down the wrong door. I have to wonder if they only see in 2D. Do they forget that apartment buildings go up? Or that there
are multiple families living in them? I don’t know. But it seems like a dose of common sense and a little more concern for innocents
is in order.
Yes, we want you to catch the murderer. Especially if he is living in my building among my children. But if you don’t have solid
information on the suspect’s whereabouts, don’t just barge in firing stun grenades and bullets. Human beings live here. And we
count on you, the police, to distinguish between the crooks and the civilians. Stop and use your head. Wait for the suspect to exit.
Try to get better confirmation of his exact location. Use common sense. It does our community no good whatsoever if attempts at
stopping murderers result in yet more murder.
Other Detroit police officers say the same thing. One detective is quoted as saying, “Me? I would have waited until the morning when
the guy went to the liquor store to buy a quart of milk. That’s how it’s supposed to be done.” So, my criticism isn’t based on just my
pedestrian perspective on police work. Other professionals in the same occupation agree that common sense simply was not
present at this crime scene.
Look, I don’t think any of these cops wanted to go out that night and shoot a kid. I don’t think Officer Weekley took pleasure in
realizing he had ended the life of a beautiful little girl who did nothing wrong to anybody. What I do think is that our lives, Black lives,
are generally less valued than white ones in our society. And that our deaths are seen as somewhat more acceptable, even those of
our children. The killing of Aiyana Jones is case in point. Collateral damage in the war on crime. Just like Botham Jean and
Breonna Taylor, another innocent Black life behind the wrong door.