In all of the melee resulting from the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, the media has overlooked a number of other very important shootings of unarmed civilians by police officers. One of the most egregious offenses is that of Officer Joseph Weekley’s fatal shooting of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Officer Weekley recently saw manslaughter charge dropped against him, for shooting the 7-year-old while she slept.
The Detroit police officer had been on trial for involuntary manslaughter who was shot and killed during a 2010 police raid.
But early in October, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway granted a motion which Weekley’s attorney had filed, arguing for the dismissal of the felony charge he faced in the young girl’s death.
The trial was brought to an end while the Michigan Court of Appeals reviewed an emergency appeal of the ruling.
Presiding Judge Michael Talbot issued the order to deny the appeal and allow the judge’s dismal to stand
“Although I find that the trial court erred in form and substance in granting defendant’s motion for directed verdict, we are barred from reviewing that decision,” Talbot wrote.
The shooting happened just after midnight, back on May 16, 2010.
A SWAT team had conducted a raid to search for a murder suspect. Weekly ended up being first through the door.
There was even a film crew on hand to film for a reality show about murder investigations. Weekley says that another SWAT member had thrown a flash-bang grenade, which temporarily blinded him. That’s when he fired the shot that killed Aiyana who was asleep on the couch in the front room of the house.
Doubling down on this claim, in court he actually testified that Aiyana’s grandmother had somehow “touched” his gun, which made him fire the shot. But he failed to explain how he could tell she had done this when he claimed he couldn’t see anything at the time.
The prosecution noted that even having his finger on the trigger of his submachine gun was improper. “He could have avoided injury if he had followed his training,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran explained.
“He didn’t, and as a result of him not following his training and not following the mandates of ordinary care, someone was killed.”
But ultimately, the arguments and reason didn’t win out.
Roland Lawrence, the chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Committee, issued a statement after the court’s decision was announced.
“Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society,” Lawrence said.
Steve Fishman, Weekley’s attorney, claimed that even though he did not dispute that his client pulled the trigger and killed the girl, “there is absolutely no evidence, none, that’s in the least bit credible, that Officer Weekley knowingly created a danger or, more importantly, intended to cause injury.”
After the dismissal, the only charge Weekley faced, was a relatively minor misdemeanor charge of “careless discharge of a firearm causing death.”