DETROIT (WWJ) – A Detroit police officer charged with involuntary manslaughter faces trial next spring in the high-profile death of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Officer Joseph Weekley, a member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team, was charged after a year-long investigation into the child’s fatal shooting at her family’s home in May 2010.
He has pleaded not guilty and the trial has been set to begin next April 30th before 36th District Court Judge Cynthia Hathaway.
Aiyana was killed in a police raid as she slept on a couch in her home. While witnesses said police tossed in a flash-bang grenade and then burst in shooting, police insist that the girl was killed when an officer’s gun accidentally discharged.
The raid was being filmed for the TV show “The First 48.” A&E network photographer Allison Howard is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in the case.
Weekley’s attorney Steven Fishman spoke with reporters at the courthouse.
“He’s holding up as well as could ever be expected when you haven’t done anything wrong and you’re charged with manslaughter,” said Fishman, who has said his client was “singled out” for charges in the case.
Fishman said this is a different kind of case, because the a grand jury handed down the indictment.
“A grand jury indictment eliminates the right to a preliminary examination, which, of course, is not good for the defendant,” said Fishman.
“What difference does it make? It means that the prosecutor doesn’t have to satisfy a 36th District judge that there is probable cause that a crime was committed … which in this case would be interesting to see if the prosecutor could satisfy somebody with that,” he said.
At Friday’s pre-trial hearing Judge Hathaway disclosed that she’s married to a police officer and asked attorneys to consider if they still want her to preside over the case, but no one objected.
After Aiyana’s death, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing banned reality TV crews from going out with police. Aiyana’s family has filed a civil suit against the city and the police department.