Monday, May 17, 2010

There Has to Be a Better Way

7-year-old girl killed in Detroit police raid

Aiyana Jones was shot and killed by police executing a search warrant as part of a homicide investigation,

Just today I was watching an episode of Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force, first time I'd seen it. It was interesting, they were after a fugitive from New Jersey who fled to Puerto Rico. They flew down, got with a task force in Puerto Rico and used local informants to smoke the guy out. Turns out he was staying in a house in Cuamo, so they got ready and waited for the informant to call and verify he was there.

The call came at night, and it was deep in the country. It was dark. They start surrounding the house with all the flashlights and camera lights - how they didn't wake anyone up is beyond me - and they start pounding on the door - "Open up, it's the police!" They are yelling in Spanish and English. A guy comes to the door, they're all pointing rifles and pistols at the guy, lights in his face. Oops, wrong house.

Ok, regroup. What happened? There are two other houses in the area that meet the description they were given. Let's roll! They surround the next house, same lights, same procedure. They show them standing next to windows with the flashlights on - and, of course the camera lights. You are aware, aren't you that a lot if not most houses in Puerto Rico don't have glass windows? The windows are large, venetian blind-like contraptions. So, anyway, no one, apparently, notices all the activity around the house. They start banging on the door and windows, "Open up, open up, it's the police!" Again, Spanish and English. Some people come to the door, guns and lights pointing at them. "Be careful, there are kids," one of the cops yells. Oopsie! Wrong house again. Sorry, sorry everyone.

They do this whole thing all over again at the third house and arrest the guy they were looking for. Success! Everybody go home, shows over.

What's wrong with this picture? Look, I'm all for getting the bad guys. They don't do nearly enough getting bad guys for my taste and they sure as hell don't do enough of keeping them off the streets when they do get them, but I think they need to rethink the way they execute these search warrants. You can't just go down the street trying all the houses until you hit the jack pot. And you can't shoot an innocent 7-year-old girl. It's not acceptable. How would you feel, what would you think, if they did that to you in the middle of the night? How long will it be until you are able to sleep through the night again? What if they shot your dog or your child? Sorry, not acceptable. Is it too much to ask to at least KNOW the fugitive is in the house, to KNOW you have the right house.

There has to be a better way.

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