DETROIT (WWJ) – A member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the slaying of a 7-year-old girl who was shot to death during a raid on her home. Charges were also announced against two others.
Officer Joseph Weekley was charged Tuesday following a yearlong Michigan State Police investigation into the May 2010 death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. A judge entered a not-guilty plea for Weekley at an afternoon court hearing in front of Judge Margie Braxton.
Aiyana was killed in a police raid as she slept on a couch in her home. While witnesses said police burst in shooting, police insist that the girl was shot when an officer’s gun accidentally discharged.
The raid was being filmed by a crew for the A&E network’s “The First 48″ show.
Also charged in the case was Allison Howard, 42, of Brooklyn, New York. Howard, the principal photographer and a field producer for the television series, was indicted on perjury charges. Howard is alleged to have had control over the video footage that became crucial evidence in the investigation of Aiyana’s death.
The fiancé of Aiyana’s aunt, Chauncey Owens, who was the subject of the raid, was arrested in the home’s second-floor flat in the separate murder case — the May 14, 2010 death of 17-year-old Je’rean Blake.
Tuesday, Worthy announced charges against Aiyana Jones’ father, Charles Jones, 26, in connection with Blake’s death.
It is alleged that, after the argument, Jones accompanied Owens to the scene and aided him in the murder. The charges against Charles Jones include first degree murder, felony firearms and perjury. He was expected to be arraigned on Wednesday.
“In cases that generate extreme interest, people always want a quick investigation, and a quick announcement of changes. I will never rush to judgment. I am interested in being thorough and doing the right thing,” said Prosecutor Kym Worthy in a statement.
“This has been a long process and we had to turn to a one man grand jury when our normal tools failed to ensure an impartial process with a fair result,” she said.
Outside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on Tuesday, Officer Weekley’s attorney, Steven Fishman, said he wants to know why his client was “singled out” for charges in this case.
“Of all the people involved, starting with the former Chief of Police who brought the camera crew to the scene which prompted [the shooting], I’m sure …. I’ll tell all the people standing here that if they bring a camera crew to watch you eat breakfast tomorrow, you’re gonna do it different then you did the day before,” Fishman said.
A spokesperson said, at the time of the incident, that then-Chief Evans was out of the country on the night Aiyana was killed.
Fishman said his client will vigorously fight the charges.
“He knows didn’t do anything wrong. He knows he was acting as a police officer on a dangerous mission,” Fishman said.
Meantime, the Jones family has filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department and the city.