For the second time in two years, a mistrial has been declared in the officer-involved shooting death of a seven-year-old Detroit girl.
On the night of May 16, 2010, Detroit’s Special Response Team (SRT) was called into preform a raid in order to apprehend a wanted suspect. The suspect’s residence was the left unit of a Lillibridge Street duplex. The right unit of the duplex was home to 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones and her family. Aside from Aiyana there were also three more small children who lived at the residence.
Although officers only had a warrant for 4056 Lilibridge Street, they made the decision to raid both units, throwing a stun grenade through Aiyana Jones’ front window where she slept on the couch.
According to reports, the grenade detonated on the couch where Aiyana and her grandmother, Mertilla Jones slept. Officers kicked down the door and, in a matter of seconds, 37-year-old Officer Joseph Weekley fired his MP5 into the room where a bullet hit the head of Aiyana Jones.
Throughout the trial both sides have offered conflicting stories about the events of May 16. Officer Weekley claims that Ms. Jones reached for his weapon causing him to lose control and inadvertently kill Aiyana.
Ms. Jones adamantly states that she fell to the floor during the initial raid and was nowhere near Officer Weekley when he fired his weapon.
“They blew my granddaughter’s brains out,” said Ms. Jones. “They killed her right before my eyes. I watched the light go out of her eyes.”
Prior to this latest incident of questionable police tactics, Officer Weekley was one of the officers involved in a 2007 federal lawsuit, which alleged that during a no-knock raid assault rifles were pointed at small children and two family pets were shot.
Through both trials, Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, representing Aiyana’s family, has argued that the SRT unit acted irresponsibly by raiding both units of the duplex. “[Police] were going into both doors,” Mr. Fieger said. “The upstairs flat is on the left. Aiyana’s flat— where I want to stress that Mr. Chauncy Owens did not reside, never resided, never stayed— is on the right.”
Fieger went on to state that the SRT unit did not have a warrant to raid Aiyana’s unit until hours later, when the seven-year-old had already been shot.
“In the video they break into both the upstairs flat and the downstairs flat. The problem is they don’t have a warrant for the upstairs. Assistant Police Chief Ralph Godbee didn’t tell you when he got the second search warrant. After Aiyana was killed and after he broke into the upstairs apartment and arrested the suspect.”
It is still unknown whether the prosecutor will seek another retrial after both previous rulings have left juries undecided.