What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?

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I read this story back when our November/December issue came out, but I see that it’s now up on the web. It’s Charlie LeDuff’s look at Detroit through the lens of a police tragedy that happened earlier this year while an A&E crew was following a SWAT team for an episode of The First 48, one of its reality shows, ending in the death of a 7-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.

….Compounding the tragedy is the fact that the police threw the grenade into the wrong apartment. The suspect fingered for Blake’s murder, Chauncey Owens, lived in the upstairs flat, with Charles Jones’ sister….”It was a total fuck-up,” [a high-ranking Detroit police official] said. “A total, unfortunate fuck-up.”

But that’s just the start. LeDuff was born and raised in Detroit, and this is one of the best looks at the city and its pathologies that you’ll read. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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