A 7-year-old girl was shot and killed at a home in Detroit early Sunday when a police officer’s gun discharged during a search for a man suspected in the shooting death of a local teenage boy, police said.
Detroit Police Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said an officer executing a search warrant with the department’s Special Response Team was engaged in a scuffle with a 46-year-old woman when the officer’s gun discharged and struck Aiyana Stanley Jones, 7, in the “head-neck area.” She was pronounced dead at St. John’s Hospital.
Godbee said the team of officers went to the home in east Detroit to search for a 34-year-old man they suspect is responsible for the death of 17-year-old Jarean Blake, who was gunned down on Friday in front of his girlfriend.
Because of the “ruthless nature” of Blake’s murder, Godbee said officers approached the home search as “high risk,” prompting them to use a “flash bang,” which flashes a bright light and causes a large noise, to disorient those inside the home. Godbee said the team identified themselves as police officers before entering.
According to preliminary information, the flash grenade did not stop a woman inside, reportedly Aiyana’s grandmother, from struggling with an officer in the front room of the home.
Godbee said a full investigation is underway with regard to what happened inside the home, but he said it appears the officer and the woman had “some level of physical contact” before the officer’s weapon discharged and shot Aiyana, who was laying on a couch.
“This is a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude to Aiyana’s parents, her family… all those who loved her and quite frankly to the city of Detroit,” Godbee said. “Our deepest and most heartfelt condolences go out to the family. It is a tragedy we also feel very deeply through the ranks of the Detroit police department, especially our Special Response Team members, who are taking this extremely hard.”
Godbee also said police are not yet categorizing the shooting as accidental, although he said “we don’t believe the gun was discharged intentionally.”
The officer involved in the incident is suspended with pay as Detroit police launch an investigation.
“We might be the target of anger,” Godbee said. “All we can do is stand ready to offer our condolences to the family, and any help we can give them.”
The suspect in Blake’s murder was apprehended and arrested inside the home, along with the woman that scuffled with police. The car witnesses identified as belonging to the suspect in Blake’s murder was also found at the home. No charges have been filed.
It does not appear to be lost on the Detroit police department that attempting to bring justice in one young person’s death has led to another tragic loss.
“We have executed countless high risk warrants where children have been present,” Godbee told the Detroit Free Press this morning. “This was a perfect storm for tragedy.”Â Â This is so sad.Â We are praying for her family. But why was the officer even fighting? Why didn’t the officer use pepper spray or a taser? – Courtney L.