The Police Murder of 7-Year-Old Aiyana Jones Is Even More Tragic Than You Think
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I'm a member of two Facebook pages that wouldn't exist in a society that truly valued its children. On these pages, people from around the country are posting angry and defeated "SMHs," Jesus-filled diatribes about the nature of karma, blunt critiques of Black family conduct and enraged calls for community action against police abuse.
The first Facebook page, " Remembering Aiyana Jones ," tells the story of a pretty brown 7-year-old who was killed by a policeman’s bullet on May 16, during an early-morning police raid of her family's Detroit duplex. As one of its members posted, "This lil' angel will never have a chance to go to high school, prom, homecoming ... college, all because this police officer killed her. If he [gets] off, then that will be another reason for them to kill again."
If you follow the press links, you'll find out how the city’s SWAT-like Special Response Team went to the Jones home to arrest Chauncey Louis Owens, a 34-year-old murder suspect who was staying in the apartment upstairs. You’ll learn that the officers -- who were being filmed for one of A&E’s morbid real-crime shows -- tossed a stun grenade into the front room of the first floor where Aiyana was sleeping, on the couch with her grandmother. You'll gag as you read about how the explosive allegedly burned little Aiyana, tear up at how a 14-year police veteran named Joseph Weekley fatally shot her in the neck in the ensuing chaos.
Aiyana’s Facebook page doesn’t much dwell on the alleged police cover-up of her killing. The day after the incident, police claimed that Weekley's gun went off as he struggled or collided with the child’s 46-year-old grandmother, Mertilla Jones. But at a press conference the following day, Jones family attorney Geoffrey Fieger claimed that he had video footage showing police shooting into the ground floor before entering it. (The family has filed lawsuits in state and federal courts.)
Now it's open season for accusations. Detroit's apparently tone-deaf mayor, Dave Bing, took time out of "leading" his broken city to accuse Fieger of “ taking advantage of a terrible situation " in the name of getting money. State attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Cox advanced Aiyana’s funeral Saturday by Tweeting that he's " disgusted but not surprised " that Rev. Al Sharpton would deliver the eulogy .
The second Facebook page now haunting my days is called " He Has a Name Too: Jerean Blake RIP Don’t Forget Him! " This one’s not much concerned with the back and forth between the city and the Joneses. Instead, it tells us about the 17-year-old Detroiter whose murder precipitated the Jones raid. It's a page of emotional and moral conflict -- classmates and neighbors take great pains to honor "the 7-year-old girl," while simultaneously venting about her family. They accuse the Joneses of abetting Owens, who is charged with Je'Rean’s murder.
According to press reports on Je’Rean's shooting -- which aren't as plentiful as those on Aiyana's -- and a radio interview with his mother , Lyvonne Cargill, the teen had gone to a strip-mall party store for a cool drink after school. There, he reportedly exchanged salty looks or words with Owens, who was riding through the teen hangout on a moped. The adult Owens allegedly told the child Je’Rean that he was going to get his gun, returned to the scene in a car moments later and blasted the young man in his chest.
Cargill's conflicted reaction is gut wrenching. “I’m sorry what happened to the 7-year-old child, you know my sympathy [goes] out for 7-year-old. But they knew the guy killed my son," Cargill charges about the Jones family’s relationship with Owens. "Everything got started because that guy killed my son. That girl would have been living right now and my son would have been living too. … They don't think about my son. They talk all about the 7-year-old girl. What about my son?"