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Family of Michigan child killed in raid sues police

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Police sued over girl's death during raid
  • NEW: Attorney recounts events leading to girl's death that he said were caught on video
  • NEW: Geoffry Fieger says girl was burned by flash device before being struck by bullet
  • NEW: Fieger calls police accounts of the raid "absurd," claims cover-up
  • The suits claim gross negligence and conspiracy to cover up a civil rights violation

(CNN) -- Calling law enforcement accounts "absurd," a Michigan attorney sued police Tuesday in the death of 7-year-old girl killed during a raid in Detroit.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger said members of the Detroit Police Special Response Team acted out of line when they conducted a raid on the family home of Aiyana Jones, who was severely burned and then killed by an officer's bullet. She died Sunday.

"This type of activity by a police force is unacceptable in America," Fieger said at a news conference in his office. "What is equally unacceptable is the cover-up that has occurred."

Fieger filed both state and federal lawsuits alleging gross negligence, a violation of civil rights and a conspiracy to cover up the violation of civil rights.

Video: Fieger worried Detroit 'will explode'

Detroit Assistant Police Chief Ralph Godbee has said that preliminary information indicated that officers approached the house with a search warrant for the girl's uncle in connection with the shooting of a high school student Friday.

Godbee said the officer's gun discharged accidentally inside the home after an altercation and physical contact with the girl's grandmother, Mertilla Jones.

Jones denied such an altercation Tuesday. Fieger said he plans to file another lawsuit for false arrest and accused the police of covering up their own mistakes by blaming the family.

Fieger said videotape of the incident shows that the shooting was not accidental. In an interview Monday, he told CNN affiliate WDIV that a crew was filming the raid for the A&E network's show, "The First 48." The program documents police investigations in the first 48 hours after a homicide.

Tuesday, Fieger recounted the events shown on the video that he said led to the girl's death. At times, he had to pause, his voice drowned out by sobbing family members.

Fieger said officers tossed a smoke bomb -- described by police as a "flash bang device" to distract occupants -- into the house, severely burning Aiyana, who was on the couch in the front room with her grandmother. She was then struck in the neck by a bullet fired from outside the house, he said.

Godbee has said he doesn't know how Fieger saw the video, according to WDIV.

"If Mr. Fieger has access to anything that would be evidence in this case, he should, as an officer of the court, get it immediately to the Michigan State Police, which will be investigating," he said in a statement.

Fieger said the police and the city owe apologies to the family, especially to Mertilla Jones for trying to blame her for her granddaughter's death. He said officers need to be held to account just as anyone else would.

"The people of the city of Detroit have got to believe the police will protect them, and not kill them," Fieger said.

"This is an opportunity to come together, not to tear us apart," he said. "Apologize now and we can start the road to healing."