Reality TV Show Filmed While 7-Year-Old Killed in Detroit Police Raid

Questions raised about the role of TV show taping during Detroit police killing.

ByABC News via logo
May 23, 2010, 12:33 PM

May 23, 2010 — -- There is outrage in Detroit after a funeral for a 7-year-old girl who was shot in the neck and killed by police in a raid on her family's home. The whole time, a reality TV crew following the police was filming right outside.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones' death on May 16 has raised questions about how much access reality TV crews should have to law enforcement and whether they played a role in this incident.

Aiyana died as police hunted a murder suspect at the home where she slept. After lobbing a flash grenade into the house, police say an officer entered and collided with Aiyana's grandmother, causing the officer's gun to go off. The bullet struck Aiyana as she slept on a living room sofa.

"It's just sad to see such a waste for no reason," said Charles Jones, Aiyana's father. "They [are] supposed to be trained for this type of stuff. They came in and killed my baby."

A camera crew shadowing officers that night in Detroit was filming an episode of the A&E police reality show, "The First 48."

The incident is being investigated, but already, Aiyana's family has filed suit, challenging the police version of events and claiming the video shows the fatal shot was fired "intentionally" by the officer from "outside" of the house.

Two lawsuits against the Detroit Police Department allege excessive force, the violation of Aiyana's civil rights, negligence, assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to cover up the shooting.

"This type of activity by a police force is unacceptable in America," said Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney representing Aiyana's family. "What is equally unacceptable is the cover up that has occurred since the time of Aiyana's passing."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, of the political and human rights National Action Network, spoke at Aiyana's funeral, which drew mourners by the hundreds.

"Do they throw these flash grenades in everybody's neighborhoods?" Sharpton asked. "Would you have gone in [affluent Detroit area] Bloomfield Hills and did what you did?"