From [HERE] The Michigan Supreme Court has cleared the way for a trial or settlement in a lawsuit against a white Detroit police officer who claimed that he accidentally killed a 7-year-old Black girl during a raid in 2010.
Two courts have said a jury can decide whether Joseph Weekley’s actions amounted to gross negligence. The Supreme Court this week declined to take an appeal.
Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones (July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010), was a seven-year-old African-American girl from the east side of Detroit, Michigan was shot in the head while she slept on a couch during a raid conducted by the Detroit Police Department's Special Response Team on May 16, 2010. Her death drew national media attention and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident.
Officer Joseph Weekley, a member of an elite police unit, was the first officer through the door of her home during a chaotic search for a murder suspect. He insists he accidentally fired his gun during a struggle with Aiyana’s grandmother. In October 2011, Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. Weekley's first trial In 2013 ended with a mistrial after a mostly white jury (11 white jurors) said they couldn’t reach a verdict.
Weekley's retrial began in September 2014. On October 3, Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway unexpectedly granted a defense motion to drop the charge of involuntary manslaughter during a second trial in 2014 [MORE] leaving him on trial for only one charge: recklessly discharging a firearm. On October 10, the second trial ended in another mistrial.
On January 28, 2015, a prosecutor cleared Weekley of the last remaining charge against him, ensuring there would not be a third trial. Now a civil trial will go forward.
The night Aiyana Jones was killed, Detroit police's Special Response Team were searching for murder suspect, Chauncey Owens, who was engaged to Aiyana's aunt, in connection with the May 14, 2010, murder of 18-year-old Jerean Blake. Weekley was a member of this SWAT unit. After obtaining a search warrant, police kicked in the front door of the home on Lillibridge, where Owens was thought to be hiding.
They threw a flashbang grenade into the downstairs flat of a multi-family home about 12:40 a.m. and Weekley was accused of firing the bullet that struck and killed the girl, who was sleeping on the couch in the front room of the home. The "flash-bang" light-emitting grenade was meant to distract suspects.
Weekley was first through the door, with a shield in one hand and a MP 5 submachine gun in the other. He claims he accidentally pulled the trigger when Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, grabbed his submachine gun. She denies that she interfered in any way.
During Weekley’s first trial, a fellow officer, Shawn Stallard, testified that he did not see anyone struggle with Weekley. He said Detroit police are trained to push away anyone who tries to grab an officer’s gun or to move the weapon in a “J’’ shape to keep control of it.
Mertilla Jones was held overnight and released. She said she reached for her granddaughter when the grenade came through the window, not for the officer's gun because the flash grenade had set the child on fire. She said she made no contact with them. Geoffrey Fieger, the family's lawyer, said the police fired the shot that struck Aiyana from outside the home, possibly through the open front door.
After the shot was fired, Weekley reported to his sergeant that a woman inside had grabbed for his gun. Police arrested Mertilla Jones, administered tests for drugs and gunpowder, and released her Sunday morning. Mertilla said that she reached for Aiyana but had no contact with officers (At Weekley's retrial in 2014, it was disclosed that Mertilla's fingerprints were not found on Weekley's gun.)
The police officer responsible for the shooting, Joseph "Brain" Weekley, is a member of Detroit's SWAT team and was a frequent subject on A&E, whose film crews were also filming the investigation for the documentary TV series The First 48.
Chauncey Owens, who was the boyfriend of Aiyana's aunt was found in the upper floor of the duplex and surrendered without incident. [MORE]
Aiyana's family, represented by Geoffrey Feiger [in video] in a pending civil case, claims police attempted to cover up the fatal mistake from the very beginning.A second police officer, Allison Howard, is charged with perjury related to the investigation that followed for "withholding video footage crucial to the investigation," according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
The case set off a national firestorm, in part because the raid was being filmed for a reality cable television show, "First 48." Critics questioned whether officers used the flash grenade because it made for better television. [MORE]