DETROIT (AP) — Armed with a shield and a submachine gun, a highly trained Detroit police officer made critical errors during a house raid that led to the fatal shooting of a sleeping 7-year-old girl, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
There is no argument that an unintentional shot from Joseph Weekley’s gun killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones on May 16, 2010, as police stormed the home in search of a murder suspect. But the officer is on trial for involuntary manslaughter because authorities believe he was extremely negligent in failing to control his weapon.
Police, accompanied by a crew from the reality TV show, “The First 48,” fired a stun grenade into the home to cause confusion. Weekley, a member of the elite Special Response Team, was the first officer through the door — “the tip of the spear” — assistant prosecutor Rob Moran said in his opening statement to the jury.
“The flash grenade goes off: Boom!” Moran said. “He stands there. This is called the fatal funnel. You never stand in a doorway. Three seconds after the flash grenade detonates, his gun goes off and that’s when the fatal shot is fired.”
Aiyana was sleeping on the couch. Police have said Weekley was jostled by, or collided with, Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, causing the gun to fire. Prosecutors disagree.
“No one grabbed his gun. … There was no struggle,” Moran said.
But Weekley’s attorney countered that this was what happened. In his remarks to jurors, Steve Fishman said Jones grabbed the gun after the grenade went off.
“He pulls back and his hand hits the trigger. … It was an accident. It was not careless. It was not reckless,” the defense lawyer said.
He said Aiyana’s death was a “tragedy of the highest order,” but not a crime.
Fishman said Weekley was “completely despondent” and vomited when he learned the shot had killed the girl.
The jury will be shown video of the raid recorded by “The First 48,” an A&E Networks show that focuses on the early stages of homicide investigations. Jurors also will be taken away from the courthouse to see a demonstration of a stun grenade, which is loud, gives off a bright light and temporarily affects the hearing of people nearby.
Only three witnesses testified on the first day and none offered much about the circumstances behind the shooting. Aiyana’s mother, Dominika Stanley, had trouble controlling tears as she spoke to jurors. A “Hannah Montana” blanket used by her daughter that night was just a few feet away.
Stanley said police first ordered her to sit on the bloody couch where her daughter was shot and then drove her to a hospital. Doctors there delivered the bad news.
“My baby didn’t make it,” she said.
Fishman signaled that the credibility of Jones, the grandmother, would be a key issue at trial. He told jurors that she has given three different versions of what happened that night, including a claim that Weekley intentionally killed Aiyana.
Wayne County Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway has barred the jury from taking notes, despite a 2011 order from the Michigan Supreme Court encouraging all trial judges to allow the practice. Hathaway didn’t explain her decision.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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