After two hung juries, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has decided not to retry the police officer who killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones in a raid gone horribly wrong four years ago.
Detroit police office Joseph Weekley, 38, shot and killed the sleeping 7-year-old with an MP5 submachine gun as he led a SWAT-like team into her home in search of a murder suspect.
Weekley was indicted more than a year later and has been tried twice before in Stanley-Jones’ death, both times resulting in mistrials. Prosecutors maintain that the officer was negligent and reckless and didn’t follow proper protocol in the May 16, 2010 operation, reports The Detroit Free Press.
They maintain that Weekley, who is part of the “elite” special response team, broke protocol in shooting little Aiyana, and officers from his unit testified to this in court (apparently, your finger is not supposed to be on the trigger of your gun unless you have identified and intend to fire at your target.)
At trial, Weekley claimed he didn’t know his gun had fired or had hit Aiyana in the head as she slept beneath a “Hanna Montana” blanket on the couch with her grandmother. He also testified that Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, grabbed for his gun, causing him to pull the trigger.
Jones denies this account and said she only reached for her grandbaby when the flash grenade crashed through their window.
Regrettably, in Weekley’s second trial in October, judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway unexpectedly dismissed the more serious manslaughter felony charge against him, leaving him to face only a misdemeanor: recklessly discharging a firearm. Under the law, this decision cannot be appealed.
Prosecutors were baffled by the judge’s move because during Weekley’s first trial, the judge ruled the opposite way when the cop’s attorney, Steve Fishman, tried to make the same motion to garner a dismissal of the manslaughter count, reports MLive.
In a statement from Prosecutor Kym Worthy released on Wednesday, she let the judge have it:
Today we personally informed the family of Aiyana Stanley-Jones that we have made a decision that we would not be going to trial for a third time in the Joseph Weekley case. It is unfortunate that Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway granted a directed verdict dismissing the felony Manslaughter charged, leaving only the misdemeanor count of Careless Discharge Causing Injury or Death. Under the law her decision cannot be appealed. On Friday, January 30, 2015 at 9:00 a.m., we will move to dismiss the case.
Weekley remains on the job, and was not disciplined in any way by the Detroit police department.