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Jan 31 2015

No Charges For Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old

Aiyana Stanley-Jones no-knock raid

A Detroit police officer who fatally shot a sleeping 7-year-old girl in 2010 is being cleared of all charges. The officer has already faced two trials, and officials announced Wednesday that the case will be dismissed.

Officer Joseph Weekley was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death – a misdemeanor charge – after fatally shooting Aiyana Stanley-Jones during a botched no-knock raid. The police were looking for a murder suspect who lived on the second floor. The raid occurred shortly after midnight.

The raid just happened to be caught on video for the A&E television series, “The First 48,” though the television crew was outside when Weekley fired his gun. The video shows little but police charging through the door, the blinding light of a flashbang grenade, and a gunshot.

Weekley was the first into the home and claims he thought he had run into an empty room. He testified that the grenade was thrown and that, upon regaining his sight, he realized someone was asleep on the couch. He claims that as he pointed his gun at the couch, Jones’ grandmother hit it, causing him to pull the trigger. He plainly told the courts, “It’s my gun that and shot and killed a 7-year-old girl” and denied any responsibility. However, the courts found no fingerprints or DNA evidence that Jones’ grandmother ever touched the gun. Regardless, police protocol is to not have your finger on the trigger.

During both trials, Weekley and the other officers couldn’t even agree on which officers were engaged in the raid or on whether or not they had seen children’s toys and furniture on the porch before entering. Officers claimed to have spoken to Weekley before or after the raid, and Weekly denied seeing them at all. He testified to moving a child’s plastic chair off the porch, and then denied it later.

The first trial ended in a mistrial in 2013 when the jury became gridlocked and was unable to reach a decision. The second trial in September 2014 saw the involuntary manslaughter charges dismissed when Weekley’s lawyer filed a motion stating there was no evidence the officer had acted in a negligent way. Weekley’s attorney claimed there was also no way to prove that he had knowingly acted in a way to create danger or harm – though no-knock raids are known to be dangerous both for the officers and the individuals being raided. The judge agreed and threw out the charge. The jury could not agree on the negligent firearm charges and again the case ended in a mistrial. As of January 30, the case has been dismissed and will not see a third trial.

Weekley has a history of using unnecessary force and avoiding responsibility for it. In 2007, he was accused of pointing his gun at a child and infant during another no-knock raid, and of shooting two dogs while in close proximity to the children. The case went under federal investigation and the officers’ actions were declared appropriate and justified. None of the officers involved were disciplined.

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