DETROIT - The FBI is stepping in to investigate the death of a 7-year-old Detroit girl who was fatally shot by a Detroit police officer.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said Wednesday that he had sent a letter in May to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the FBI open a case file. Conyers said the Justice Department wrote him back last week, saying the FBI would investigate.
Jones' family's attorney, Jeffrey Fieger, said Jones was sleeping on the couch near the front door with her grandmother, Mertilla Jones, on May 16 when police -- executing a murder warrant for a 34-year-old man -- threw an incendiary device through the front window of her home and then kicked in the front door, while simultaneously firing a shot through the door and into the home.
Police said an officer's gun accidentally discharged inside the home after they entered and struggled with Jones' grandmother.
According to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's report, Jones was killed when a bullet struck her in the neck. But Fieger, who hired Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz to do an independent autopsy, said Spitz's report shows Jones died when a bullet went through the top of her head and exited her neck.
Fieger claims that the angle of the shot as described by his autopsy is consistent with the shot coming from outside the front door. He suggested that it's highly unlikely the bullet's trajectory could be reproduced from a gun fired inside the house.
The 34-year-old man whom police were searching for was Jones' aunt's fiance. Chauncey Owens was arrested the night of the raid and charged in connection with the slaying of a 17-year-old boy. Owens is set to stand trial on first-degree murder charges in September.
The Detroit police handed off the investigation to the Michigan State Police, who will continue to investigate the shooting. However, the FBI will conduct it's own investigation and forward its findings to attorneys in the criminal section of its Civil Rights Division.
No word on what the investigations will be completed.
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