- Joseph Weekley charged with involuntary manslaughter in death of Aiyana Jones after he was ‘grossly negligent’ with handling gun during a raid
- Claims pulled gun trigger accidentally during scuffle with her grandmother
- 2010 raid was being filmed for reality TV show ‘The First 48 Hours’
By ASSOCIATED PRESS and DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 12:48 EST, 19 June 2013 | UPDATED: 13:10 EST, 19 June 2013
A judge has declared a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict for a police officer who shot dead a young girl during a chaotic search for a murder suspect that was recorded by a reality TV crew.
Loud voices could be heard in the jury room in Wayne County, Michigan a few hours before jurors threw in the towel in the case of Joseph Weekley on Tuesday and were dismissed.
They sent three notes, the last one indicating they still couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on the third day of deliberations, despite encouragement from Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
But supporters of the seven-year-old victim, Aiyana Jones, said they believe the jury was unable to reach a decision due to race.
Roland Lawrence of the Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee explained only one juror was African American and that he had ‘no confidence in this jury’ once he realized the racial disparity.
Weekley, a member of an elite police squad, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aiyana, who was shot in the head in May 2010 while sleeping on her grandmother’s couch.
Police threw a stun grenade through a window, and Weekley was the first officer through the door.
Weekley told jurors that he accidentally pulled the trigger during a struggle with the girl’s grandmother, but Mertilla Jones denied interfering with the gun.
Loss: Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, was shot dead when the officer’s gun accidentally fired during a raid
The hunt for a murder suspect was being recorded by a crew from ‘The First 48,’ a police show on A&E Networks. Some video shot from the sidewalk was part of the evidence.
The jury could have convicted Weekley of involuntary manslaughter, a felony, or reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor. He also could have been cleared of all charges.
‘This is a bittersweet outcome: Bitter because Weekley was not convicted, and sweet in that justice for Aiyana Jones will come soon,’ said Roland Lawrence.
A pretrial conference to schedule a new set of hearings and a near jury selection is set for 9am July 25. If convicted, Weekley could face up to 15 years behind bars.
Aiyana was sleeping on one end of the couch, and her grandmother Mertilla Jones was on the other in May 2010 when an armed, black-clad and masked police officers stormed the apartment.
Armed with an MP5 submachine gun and behind a shield, Weekley had been tasked with being first into the home in search of murder suspect, Chauncey Owens.
Last week, a neighbor testified that he tried to tell officers before they raided the home that children were inside. Under cross-examination Monday, Jones said the officers were negligent.
‘They knew there were children in there. So why would they come in there like that? They came to kill, and they killed a 7-year-old.’
Davis, the officer who tossed the stun grenade, said the team was unaware children were inside.
When asked by prosecutors if knowing children were in the house would have forced police to change raid tactics, Davis responded: ‘Probably not.’
It was Owens they were after. Two days before the raid 17-year-old Je’rean Blake was standing outside a neighborhood convenience store when he was shot to death following a dispute.
Mertilla Jones testified that Owens lived in the upper unit with her daughter, LaKrystal Sanders. Police found Owens in the upstairs flat and he was arrested.
Owens pleaded guilty in April 2011 to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison for Blake’s slaying.