In Detroit, a judge has thrown out a felony charge against police officer Joseph Weekley, who back in 2010 shot Aiyana Stanley-Jones, age 7, to death. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office stated in a testimonial on Friday that Wayne County Judge Cynthia Hathaway discharged the involuntary manslaughter charge, instead granting a motion submitted by Weekley’s lawyer, Steve Fishman. Hathaway allowed the prosecution’s request for a stay on the ruling and adjourned court until Monday morning. The prosecution plans on filing an emergency appeal plea with the Court of Appeals, stated several media sources.
Fishman noted that for involuntary manslaughter to be proved, the defense would have to show that his client performed in a completely negligent manner in the conditions that led to Stanley-Jones’ death. The defense attorney stated that there was, without question, no reliable evidence that proved Officer Weekley knowingly generated any kind of danger or planned to cause any type of injury.
The Detroit police officer ended up shooting the child back in 2010 during a bungled police raid while they searched for a murder suspect. The search occurred after midnight, and Officer Weekley was the first to come through the door of the Stanley-Jones house, located on Detroit’s east side. At this same time, there was a film crew following the police and taping for a reality television show. It was reported that a companion officer was said to have tossed a flash grenade, and Weekley ended up firing his gun soon after. This was when he killed the child, who happened to be asleep on a couch.
In the courtroom, the prosecution and defense gave opposing portrayals of what happened leading up to the death of Stanley-Jones. Officer Weekley reportedly said the girl’s grandmother, who had also allegedly been sleeping on the couch when the officers showed up, supposedly grabbed his gun, which caused him to shoot. One media source stated that evidence presented in court showed that neither the grandmothers’ fingerprints nor any DNA were found on Weekley’s gun. The officer’s DNA and fingerprints also were not found on the gun.
The grandmother was insistent that she never touched either Weekley or his weapon. However, she also testified he allegedly placed the gun to her granddaughter’s head and drew the trigger. The older woman had to be removed from the courtroom after she directed an emotional outburst at Weekley in the course of her testament.
Fishman tried to discredit her while requesting a dismissal of the manslaughter charge. He declared that any indication that pointed to Weekley knowingly generating any kind of danger was completely and totally unbelievable.
Officer Weekley’s trial, which is a white officer being charged for the death of a black child has drawn parallels to the incident of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death, and the extreme maneuvers that police took among local protests, ignited national dialogues about police violence through the various forces all over the United States.
Before Weekley’s trial, possible jurors were questioned about the Ferguson shooting and if they had seen any reports that could possibly affect their decision in the case. Weekley was also accused of careless discharge of a weapon which brought about death. That was a misdemeanor charge that may not receive any jail sentence if he were to be convicted. The police officer had been looking at a maximum sentence of 15 years in a state prison for the manslaughter charge. Weekley had a first trial for this case in 2013, but the jury ended in a mistrial. It sounds like this second trial could be in jeopardy as well with the judge throwing out the felony charge and putting the trial on hold until Monday.
By Kimberly Ruble