Earlier it was reported that a police raid in a Detroit residence left 7-year-old Aiyana Jones dead. The murder suspect the police were after, Aiyana’s uncle Chauncey Owens, has since been charged with murder, but more information about Aiyana’s death is still being released.
It turns out the raid was filmed for a reality show called “The First 48″ which follows police officers 48 hours after a murder is committed.
Reporter Mitch Albom asks, “What on earth is a television crew doing in this mix? This is real life. Real bullets. Real blood. Real funerals. That may be the vicarious thrill for people watching at home, but last I looked, police do not exist to provide characters for the A&E Network…Some argue [video footage] keeps [officers] honest. I argue they’re supposed to be honest.”
It is questionable whether police officers are truly held accountable through reality TV since cameramen are restricted to filming from the outside of homes only — the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment for media to record police during a raid into a private residence. In addition, the police department has the final say on editing of the footage. The Associated Press reports that in the past, the department has chosen to edit out footage that may portray the officers as less professional, such as footage of them smoking.
A spokesperson for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing told the press he had no knowledge of the police’s involvement with A&E’s reality show, and has since banned TV crews from taping police raids.
Another detail discovered is that the video footage shows that the gunshot actually came from the porch, according to the Jones’ attorney Geoffrey Fieger. However Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee contends that the gunshot was a result of an altercation between an officer and the girl’s grandmother.
Aiyana’s funeral was held last Friday with hundreds in attendance, including Mayor Bing. Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy, saying “Obviously, many things that swirl around the circumstances surrounding her death, but we’re really here to mourn and grieve her loss and to lift her up as an example of what needs to change in our city.”
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, recently wrote a letter to Attorney General Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, recently wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for the Department of Justice to investigate the case, citing the fact that the city is under federal watch due to the high rate of fatal shootings by the Detroit Police Department and that the DPD has only complied to 44 percent of mandated reforms. Holder has yet to respond.
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