Aiyana Jones’ Family Prepares For Funeral, Lawsuits

By Jamilah King May 19, 2010

Less than a week after Detroit police allegedly burned, shot, and killed 7-year-old Aiyana Jones during a raid on her family’s home, the slain child’s family is taking legal action. In an hour long press conference held yesterday, prominent local attorney Geoffrey Fieger announced that he had filed lawsuits on the family’s behalf in both federal and state courts. The $75,000 federal suit argues that police violated the girl’s constitutional rights and alleges what Fieger called a "conspiracy to cover up the violation of civil rights", while the state suit seeks damages of more than $25,000. "This type of police activity is unacceptable in America," Fieger said at the press conference. "What is equally unacceptable is the cover up that has occurred since the time of Aiyana’s passing." It was initially reported that the shooting happened as the result of an altercation between Mertilla Jones, Aiyana’s grandmother, and an armed police officer. Fieger and the family vehemently deny that any altercation happened and claim there’s a three minute video to prove their side of the story. While Fieger wouldn’t disclose the source of the video, it’s been acknowledged that a crew from the A&E series "First 48" had been shadowing officers involved in the raid. The video reportedly shows that officers, who entered the home in search a homicide suspect, lobbed a flash grenade through a first floor window and then shot into the house from the porch, hitting the 7-year-old in the neck. Community members and the Jones family have questioned what effect the presence of the film crew may have had on decisions by police to use excessive force. Just hours after the shooting, the victim’s father Charles Jones told CNN affiliate WDIV, "[Aiyana] was sleeping and they came in the door shooting and throwing flash grenades … burned my baby up and shot her, killed her." Assistant police chief Ralph Godbee is sticking to his story that a fight did happen, and is urging Fieger to share any video evidence with Detroit police investigators. There are also more lawsuits on the horizon. Fieger also announced yesterday his plans to file another suit on behalf of Mertilla Jones, seen visibly sobbing in the video above, for false imprisonment and conspiracy by Detroit police officers to cover up the shooting. The elder Jones was arrested after her grandaughter’s shooting, presumably for interfering with a police investigation. Meanwhile, the 7-year-old’s family has prepared funeral arrangements and set up a memorial fund in the girl’s honor.