Incredible: “What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?”

Mother Jones’s Charlie DeLuff examines what went wrong on the morning of May 16, 2010 when a SWAT raid, an A&E film crew and the smoldering death of a Detroit police officer converged in the murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a seven-year-old girl.

The SWAT team tried the steel door to the building. It was unlocked. They threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of the lower unit and kicked open its wooden door, which was also unlocked. The grenade landed so close to Aiyana that it burned her blanket. Officer Joseph Weekley, the lead commando—who’d been featured before on another A&E show, Detroit SWAT—burst into the house. His weapon fired a single shot, the bullet striking Aiyana in the head and exiting her neck. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

“They had time,” a Detroit police detective told me. “You don’t go into a home around midnight. People are drinking. People are awake. Me? I would have waited until the morning when the guy went to the liquor store to buy a quart of milk. That’s how it’s supposed to be done.”

But the SWAT team didn’t wait. Maybe because the cameras were rolling, maybe because a Detroit police officer had been murdered two weeks earlier while trying to apprehend a suspect. This was the first raid on a house since his death.

The story is also a sad post-mortem of Detroit and what could happen to other “dying” cities.  It’s also one of the finest pieces of writing/journalism I’ve read in a while.  [via hypervocal]

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