DETROIT (WWJ) - A Wayne County Circuit Court judge has rejected a motion to dismiss a case against a Detroit police officer accused of fatally shooting a 7-year-old girl during a raid that was recorded for a reality TV show.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway on Friday told a packed courtroom she believes a jury should hear Officer Joseph Weekley’s case. Hathaway then set a trial date of May 29 for Weekley, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aiyana Jones.
Jones was killed on May 16, 2010 as she slept on a couch in her home. She was fatally shot around 12:40 a.m. when members of a special police operations team burst into her home to search for a man wanted for murder. The raid was being filmed for the TV show “The First 48.” The documentary-style series, which airs on A&E, follows homicide investigators during the first 48 hours after a homicide.
“I said, ‘You F’ed up. Gone and killed my grandbaby,’” the girl’s grandmother told the Detroit News days after the shooting. “One of them yelled, ‘Oh s—!’ They took her up in their arms and ran out the house with her.”
Police initially took Jones’ grandmother into custody and administered tests for gunpowder and drugs. She was released hours later.
Family members believe the officers involved in the deadly raid were more concerned about how they looked when the TV show aired than they were about conducting their police work properly.
Chauncey Owens, 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. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 28-year prison sentence. At the time, Owens was engaged to Jones’ aunt.
Jones’ death made national headlines, attracting attention from civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy at her funeral. After Jones’ death, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing banned TV crews from going out with police.
Allison Howard, a photographer for “The First 48″ is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in the case. Howard, a New York resident, is alleged to have had control over the video footage that became crucial evidence in the investigation of Jones’ death.
Jones’ family has also filed civil lawsuits against the city of Detroit, the police department, and the A&E Television Network.
Weekley, who still serves on the city’s police force, was indicted by a grand jury in October 2011 after a year-long investigation.