Shooting of Aiyana Jones

  (Redirected from Death of Aiyana Jones)

Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones (July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010), was a seven-year-old African-American girl from Detroit's East Side who was shot in the head and killed during a raid conducted by the Detroit Police Department's Special Response Team on May 16, 2010.[3] Her death drew national media attention[4] and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident.[5]

Shooting of Aiyana Jones
Aiyana Jones.jpg
Aiyana Jones
Born
Aiyana MoNay Stanley-Jones

(2002-07-20)July 20, 2002
DiedMay 16, 2010(2010-05-16) (aged 7)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Cause of deathGunshot wound to the head
Resting placeTrinity Cemetery[1]
5210 Mount Elliott Street
Detroit, Michigan 48211
Other namesAiyana Stanley-Jones
CitizenshipUnited States
Known forShot in police raid
Parent(s)Charles Jones (father)
Dominika Stanley (mother)[2]

Officer Joseph Weekley was charged in connection with Jones' death. In October 2011, he was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. Weekley's first trial ended in a mistrial in June 2013.[6] His retrial began in September 2014. On October 3, the judge dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Weekley, leaving him on trial for only one charge: recklessly discharging a firearm.[7][8][9] On October 10, the second trial ended in another mistrial.[10][11] On January 28, 2015, a prosecutor cleared Weekley of the last remaining charge against him, ensuring there would not be a third trial.[12]

ContextEdit

On May 14, 2010, Southeastern High School senior Je'Rean Blake[13][14][15] was shot and killed near the intersection of Mack and Beniteau streets on Detroit's east side. By the end of the following day, police had identified Chauncey Owens as a suspect in the shooting and obtained a warrant to search 4054 Lillibridge St, where he was believed to be hiding.[16]

Owens was later found guilty of Blake's murder.[17]

DeathEdit

According to press reports, police were on the scene by 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, May 16, 2010. In an attempt to distract the occupants, police fired a flash grenade through the front window.[18][19] Officer Weekley claimed that the flash grenade subsequently blinded his view of the person on the couch in the living room.[20]

Police officers, bystanders, and residents of the home disagreed about the events that followed. According to reports, seconds after entering the house, Weekley fired the fatal shot.[21] He pushed his way inside, protected by a ballistic shield. Weekley claimed Aiyana Jones' paternal grandmother, Mertilla Jones, attempted to slap his MP5 submachine gun, causing it to fire. The bullet struck Aiyana killing her. Weekley stated, "A woman inside grabbed my gun. It fired. The bullet hit a child."[22][23]

Mertilla Jones 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 any officers.[3]

After the shot was fired, Weekley reported to his sergeant that a woman inside had grabbed for his gun. Police arrested Mertilla, administered tests for drugs and gunpowder, and released her Sunday morning.[24] At Weekley's retrial in 2014, it was disclosed that Mertilla's fingerprints were not found on Weekley's gun.[25] 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.[3]

Weekley was a member of Detroit's SWAT team and a frequent subject on the A&E Network (A&E), whose film crews were also filming the investigation for the documentary TV series The First 48.[26]

Chauncey Owens who the raid was aimed at finding, the boyfriend of Aiyana's aunt LaKrystal Sanders,[27] was found in the upper floor of the duplex and surrendered without incident.[3]

AftermathEdit

After a one-year internal and federal investigation, on October 4, 2011, a grand jury indicted Weekley on involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. He admitted in his first trial that, "It's my gun that shot and killed a 7-year-old girl."[28] His trial was scheduled for October[29] and finally took place in June 2013 but resulted in a deadlocked jury. A fresh trial was scheduled for December 2013,[30] but actually began in September 2014.[31]

Allison Howard, a videographer and photographer with A&E who was also present at the raid, was indicted on obstruction of justice and perjury for allegedly "copying, showing or giving video footage that she shot of the raid to third parties".[32] Federal prosecutors say that Howard had provided false testimony to investigators about the shooting, and that Weekley's action were reckless, and she lied to the police in an effort to blame Jones' family for Aiyanas' death.[citation needed] In June 2013, Howard pleaded "no contest" to the obstruction of justice charge, and the perjury charge was dismissed.[33][34] Allison Howard was sentenced to two years of probation in July 2013, and fined $2,000.[35][36]

TrialEdit

Weekley's first trial ended in a mistrial in June 2013.[6] Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway presided over the case.[37] Aiyana's case would be the longest presiding case that Hathaway had in more than 20 years of being on the bench.

RetrialEdit

Weekley's retrial started in September 2014.[38] He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and "negligent firing of a weapon causing death".[39][40]

On the second day of trial, September 24, LaKrystal Sanders, who lived on the upper floor of the house where Aiyana was killed, testified.[41] Sanders was Aiyana Jones's paternal aunt, the girlfriend of Chauncey Owens, and the daughter of Mertilla Jones.[42] While Sanders was on the stand, Judge Cynthia Hathaway told her that she (Sanders) was being "disrespectful."[42][43] Aiyana's mother Dominika Stanley, and paternal grandmother Mertilla testified, and both had "emotional outbursts." After the grandmother's outburst, the judge ordered the jury out of the room and the grandmother was escorted from the court room screaming.[41][44][45][46] Because of Mertilla Jones's outburst, the judge stopped the trial until September 29.[47]

On September 29, Weekley's lawyer asked the judge for a mistrial, citing Mertilla Jones's conduct on the stand the week before. The judge denied the motion for mistrial, saying she believed the jury could still be "impartial." However, the judge also said if Mertilla Jones and the other relatives continued to have outbursts on the stand, then she would declare a mistrial.[39]

On October 3, the judge dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Weekley.[7][8][9] On October 10, the judge declared a mistrial due to jury deadlock.[48] On January 28, 2015, county prosecutor Kym Worthy dismissed the last remaining charge against Weekley, the misdemeanor of 'careless discharge of a firearm causing death'. Weekley will not go to a third trial.[12]

Jurors

The jury claimed that race did not affect the decision of their verdict. The jury stall resulted in seven voting "not guilty" and five voting "guilty".[49]

FuneralEdit

Aiyana Jones' funeral was held in the Second Ebenezer Church on May 22, 2010 in Detroit. Reverend Al Sharpton gave the eulogy. Charles Jones, Aiyana's father, wore a black suit, pink tie and pink handkerchief in remembrance of his daughter as pink was her favorite color. Her mother Dominika, unable to bear the reality of her daughter being gone at the beginning of the funeral service, later sat by her daughter's casket feeling a sense of comfort being in her presence.[50] The casket was white and was afterwards driven to the grave by horse-drawn carriage.[51] She was buried on the grounds.[52]

ControversyEdit

LawsuitsEdit

A civil rights lawsuit questioned Weekleys' account of the incident, claiming the grenade had gone through the window and struck Aiyana. The lawsuit asserts that police were outside of the home where they "blindly fired random shots," and one of the bullets fatally struck the 7-year-old child in the neck. The lawsuit charges Rowe[who?] and Weekley for the unlawful use of excessive force. Furthermore, the police department and unnamed supervisors of the Special Response Team in the city of Detroit were being sued for violating the civil rights of Aiyana Jones through their training and policy procedure. The family is seeking $7.5 million in damages and a jury trial conceded by the court filing.[53] Two days after Jones's death, on May 18, 2010, attorney Geoffrey Fieger filed lawsuits on behalf of her family against A&E and the police.[54][55]

Fieger video claimEdit

Attorney Fieger claimed that footage, from an undisclosed source, showed that the lethal bullet came from outside the home, rather than inside, as police said.[56] A spokesman for city police demanded that Fieger share the tape's contents with Michigan State Police investigators. Fieger responded by saying he does not have the supposed video,[57] which he claims was made by the A&E Network reality show The First 48.[58] Michigan State Police Detective Tawana Powell testified during the 2014 trial that the investigation discovered that the video Fieger was talking about did not exist.[59]

John Weekley Follow-Up

On April 2, 2015, nearly five years following the shooting of Jones, Officer Weekley was returned to active duty as a Detroit police officer. The department decided to withdraw him from active duty shortly after the shooting on May 16, 2010. Weekley was transferred from the Special Response Team to the Criminal Investigations Bureau. Police Chief James Craig stated, "He'll be in a limited duty capacity. He won't be in the field."[60]

Popular mediaEdit

In September 2013, J. Cole published a music video dedicated to Jones for his song Crooked Smile, featuring TLC on YouTube.[61][62][63]

RallyEdit

In May 2016, BlackMattersUS[64] held a small rally in memory of Jones.[65] Families of people killed by police officers and activists gathered at the feet of the Spirit of Detroit statue in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Detroit.[66] On July 20, 2016 Detroit police arrested six unknown individuals for chaining themselves to a precinct of the Detroit Police Department, their protest honoring Jones. The Detroit chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and Black Lives Matter Detroit organized the rally on what would have been her 14th birthday. Protestors pleaded for the termination of Officer Weekley as he had been selected to co-chair the Detroit Police Department's Committee on Race and Equality. Grandmother Mertilla Jones said, "Accountability needs to be expected from cases like this, because cops can't keep killing people and getting away with it."[67]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "Trial Opens For Detroit Officer Who Killed Girl During Police Raid Filmed For TV". cbslocal.com.
  3. ^ a b c d Schaefer, Jim (May 19, 2010). "Detroit police outline final moments of Aiyana's life". Detroit Free Press. p. A1. Archived from the original on May 22, 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  4. ^ Dolan, Matthew; Mike Ramsey (May 17, 2010). "State to Probe Police Killing of Girl in Detroit". The Wall Street Journal. Detroit. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  5. ^ Angel, Cecil; Todd Spangler; George Sipple (May 20, 2010). "Conyers seeks federal probe of Aiyana's death". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Aiyana Stanley-Jones Update: Mistrial declared in manslaughter trial of Detroit cop in death of 7-yr.-old girl". cbsnews.com. 18 June 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Judge dismisses involuntary manslaughter charge against Detroit". myfoxdetroit.com. 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06.
  8. ^ a b Elisha Anderson; Detroit Free Press (3 October 2014). "Manslaughter charge dismissed in cop's shooting of girl". USA TODAY.
  9. ^ a b [1]
  10. ^ "Second mistrial declared in fatal shooting of Aiyana Stanley-Jones by Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley". cbsnews.com. 10 October 2014.
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times (10 October 2014). "Second mistrial in case of Detroit cop who accidentally killed child". latimes.com.
  12. ^ a b "Charges Dismissed Against Joseph Weekley, Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old [UPDATE]". The Huffington Post.
  13. ^ "What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
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  15. ^ "Where's the outrage? One year later, Aiyana Stanely Jones investigation mired in delays". MLive.com. 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  16. ^ Swickard, Joe (2010-05-19). "Homicide suspect hunted in raid that led to Aiyana's death is charged". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  17. ^ Herrera, Halston (2014-03-14). "Man sentenced to life in prison for Detroit teen's death". WDIV. Click on Detroit. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
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  21. ^ 'She Was Only a Baby’: Last Charge Dropped in Police Raid That Killed Sleeping Detroit Child; Aiyana Stanley-Jones Was 7 Years Old When She Was Killed by a Single Bullet to the Head. As Officer Joseph Weekley Walks Free, Another Community Is Demanding Answers about the Increasing Militarisation of Law Enforcement.” The Guardian (London, England), 2015. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsbro&AN=edsbro.A399619461&site=eds-live.
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  28. ^ "Detroit police officer who shot 7-year-old returns to job after half decade on leave". MLive.com. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
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  30. ^ Woods, Ashle (September 19, 2013). "Cop Who Shot 7-Year-Old To Death Will Be Retried". Huffington Post.
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  52. ^ "UPDATE: Aiyana Jones' Funeral". Essence. May 23, 2010. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010. Aiyana Stanley Jones was laid to reston (sic) Saturday at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, Michigan.
  53. ^ Abbey-Lambertz, Kate (April 2, 2015). "Lawsuit Alleges Police Cover-Up In Fatal Shooting Of Sleeping 7-Year-Old Aiyana Stanley-Jones".
  54. ^ Williams, Corey; Ed White (May 18, 2010). "Attorney files 2 lawsuits in death of Detroit girl". Associated Press.
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  61. ^ Video on YouTube
  62. ^ Korina Lopez, USA TODAY (19 September 2013). "J. Cole dedicates video to dead 7-year-old girl". USA TODAY.
  63. ^ "J. Cole Dedicates 'Crooked Smile' Video To Slain 7-Year-Old Girl". MTV News.
  64. ^ "Archived copy". blackmatterus.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. Retrieved 2016-05-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)[unreliable source?]
  65. ^ "The 6th Anniversary of the Aiyana Jones Death". blackmatterus.com. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-05-24.[unreliable source?]
  66. ^ Ramirez, Charles E. (2016-05-21). "Rally marks 2010 death of Aiyana in police raid". Detroitnews.com. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  67. ^ Gross, Allie (2017-03-09). "Six arrested during rally honoring Aiyana Stanley-Jones". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 2020-06-06.

External linksEdit