Footage From A&E Series to Assist Murder Case

by | May 18, 2010 at 8:03 AM | TV News

The First 48 (A&E)

The First 48 (A&E)

By COREY WILLIAMS and ED WHITE
Associated Press Writers

DETROIT — An attorney who represents the family of a 7-year-old girl shot to death during a Detroit police raid plans to file two wrongful death lawsuits in the case.

Geoffrey Fieger said he will announce the suits Tuesday morning, and that the family of Aiyana Jones is expected to address reporters during the same news conference at his offices in Southfield.

Events leading up to the shooting death may have been videotaped by a crime-reality series camera crew that was with police as they searched a family home for a homicide suspect.

What’s on the video could reveal whether Aiyana was fatally shot by an officer whose gun mistakenly discharged inside the house, as police say, or if claims of a “cover up” by Fieger are true.

Police have said officers threw a flash grenade through the first-floor window of the two-family home early Sunday and that an officer’s gun discharged during a struggle or after a collision with the girl’s grandmother. The crew for the A&E series ‘The First 48‘ was with police during the weekend raid.

Fieger said he has seen video of the siege and that the police account was full of “utter fabrications.” He said a video shows an officer lobbing the grenade and then shooting into the home from the porch. He would not say if the footage he saw was from the A&E crew.

“There is no question about what happened because it’s in the videotape,” Fieger said Monday. “It’s not an accident. It’s not a mistake. There was no altercation.”

“Aiyana Jones was shot from outside on the porch,” he said.

Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said police want that tape.

“If Mr. Fieger has access to anything that would be evidence in this case, he should, as an officer of the court, get it immediately to the Michigan State Police, which will be investigating,” Godbee said in an e-mail.

Watch an episode of A&E’s series’Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force’:

Godbee also said the police department has asked for footage shot by ‘The First 48′ crew, which has been in Detroit for several months while shadowing homicide investigators on a nearly daily basis. Neither Godbee nor A&E would say whether that request was granted.

A&E spokesman Dan Silberman said the network would not comment about the case, and he denied a request by The Associated Press for its footage.

‘The First 48′ chronicles the efforts of homicide detectives during the critical first two days after someone is killed. Thanks to the access provided by police departments across the nation, the show takes viewers to crime scenes, autopsies, forensic processing and interrogations.

The crew was on-hand Friday following the shooting death of a 17-year-old Detroit high school student outside a party store not far from Aiyana’s home. When the elite Special Response Team prepared to raid the ramshackle duplex early Sunday to look for the suspect in the teen’s slaying, a camera also may have been rolling.

The police department declined to say whether it was being paid by the television show.

Fieger said more than one camera was recording at the scene and that the footage he saw includes sound.

“The videotape shows clearly that the assistant police chief and the officers on the scene are engaging in an intentional cover up of the events,” Fieger said.

Police have said the target of the raid, a 34-year-old man, was arrested in the upstairs unit of the duplex. Police had warrants to search both units, and family members of the slain girl were seen going in and out of both on Monday. The suspect has not been charged, and it was not immediately clear what relationship he had to the slain girl.

The case has been handed over to the Michigan State Police to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

Police have not identified the officer whose gun fired the shot that killed Aiyana. Godbee said he is a 14-year veteran with six to seven years on the Special Response Team and that he has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The officer was cleared following a nonfatal shooting last summer in which police returned fire after being were fired upon by someone barricaded in a house, Godbee said.

The Detroit police department has been under two court-ordered consent decrees since 2003 aimed at, among other things, correcting how and when its officers use force on suspects.

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