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.