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Thursday, October 6, 2011

"First 48" Tragedy in Detroit UPDATE

If you read the full post regarding filming of “The First 48” here in Charlotte (including the link to the detailed story contained inside), you also read about the tragic results of the death of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit.  She was killed when a flash-bang device was thrown through her window, followed by gunfire from a police officer’s gun.  The lawsuit filed by her family’s attorney states that police did not even have a warrant at that time for the resident of the adjoining address, whom they were seeking, and that the commando-style raid was not necessary to arrest that person anyway. 

The allegation is that it was done for effect to make “good t.v.”

It’s tragic all around, but mostly for this innocent child.  Certainly nobody involved could feel okay about what has taken place.

Producers of the show have fought release of the tape of the show for years; it seems that someone from the show took it immediately and showed it to an attorney for the child’s family, though.

Here is an update on the case from AOL news.

by Catherine Lawson, posted Oct 5th 2011 6:50AM

A Detroit police officer is facing charges stemming from the shooting death of a child during a raid being filmed for A&E reality show 'The First 48.'

AP reports that Joseph Weekley, a member of the city's Special Response Team, was indicted Tuesday on involuntary manslaughter and careless and reckless discharge of a firearm causing the death of seven year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

The TV show's principal photographer, Allison Howard, was also indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. She and Weekley have both pleaded not guilty.

The indictments come after a year-long investigation into the death of Aiyana, who was shot during a night-time raid on her home. Police officials have said that Weekley's gun accidentally discharged after he was bumped or jostled by the girl's grandmother.

Police raided the home looking for Aiyana's aunt's fiancé, Chauncey Owens, who was the suspect in a shooting death. (He has since pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.) Charges have also been filed against Aiyana's father, Charles Jones, who's expected to be arraigned Wednesday on charges of aiding and abetting first-degree murder, felon in possession of a firearm and perjury in a court proceeding.

Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, said his client "knows he was acting as a police officer in a dangerous mission." If convicted, Weekley could face 15 years behind bars.

According to the AP, Howard is accused of lying to prosecutors about showing or giving video footage of the raid to "third parties." The indictment did not specify who the third party was, but in a press conference last year an attorney for Aiyana's family told reporters they'd seen a few minutes of the video footage.

'The First 48' follows homicide detectives in various U.S. police departments as they work the critical first 48 hours of a murder investigation. The show's
website says it gives viewers "unprecedented access to crime scenes, interrogations and forensic processing."

Aiyana's death led Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to ban reality TV crews from tagging along with city police. He also admonished then-Police Chief Warren Evans for not telling him that he'd permitted TV cameras to be present during raids.

In a statement yesterday, Bing said "Our condolences remain with all affected by this tragedy. We must use this difficult moment to continue bringing our community and police department together."

CMPD remains silent on whether they will renew “First 48” in Charlotte, per contract option.  FOP (Fraternal Order of Police for those who don’t know) have not commented yet whether they were consulted before Chief Rodney Monroe signed a contract giving away their rights, both on and off duty, in perpetuity.