DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A key witness whose stormy remarks temporarily halted the trial of a Detroit police officer returned for more testimony Tuesday, speaking slowly and softly about a chaotic raid that killed her 7-year-old granddaughter while the girl slept on a couch.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway warned Mertilla Jones not to “act out.”
WWJ Newsradio 905’s Marie Osborne reported Tuesday that Steve Fishman, attorney for Officer Joseph Weekley, wasted no time in confronting Jones about the outburst that had prompted him to ask for a mistrial.
Clutching a tissue in her left hand, she was very calm, even when a defense lawyer suggested her screams and tears last week were intentional.
“Your demeanor’s a lot different today than it was Wednesday, don’t you agree?” asked Fishman.
Jones repeated her claim that Weekley intentionally killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010 during a midnight search for a murder suspect. Prosecutors won’t go that far, but they accuse the officer of recklessly handling his gun while leading an elite police unit into the home.
Weekley is charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Jones said she was at one end of a couch while Aiyana was sleeping at the other when police threw a stun grenade through a window and stormed through the door.
“As soon as the door opened, I heard a shot go off,” Jones said. “I was asking the police, `Don’t come in like that. Let me get my grandbaby off my couch.’ Before I could get anything out of my mouth, Aiyana was shot.”
Jones was asked if she saw the child get shot.
“I heard it, ” she said, “and Aiyana’s eyes just flew open, and blood started coming out of her mouth and I said, ‘You shot my grandbaby.'”
She denied interfering with Weekley — a key point in the case. Weekley insists he mistakenly pulled the trigger when the grandmother grabbed his gun, although other officers are expected to testify that they saw no struggle.
Jones said nothing like the defense described happened that night; answering no when asked whether she reached up and touched any police officer or even made any effort to approach police.
The trial was stopped last Wednesday when Jones couldn’t control her emotions. She sobbed, yelled and pointedly told Weekley, “You killed my grandbaby.”
Fishman asked for a mistrial Monday, saying Jones had acted like a “fool” and spoiled Weekley’s right to a fair trial. Jurors, however, said they still could be fair, and the judge declined to end the trial.
“You did that on purpose didn’t you?” Fishman asked during cross-examination Tuesday.
“No,” Jones softly replied.
Jones, who has two sons in prison for murder, acknowledged to Fishman that she has said she hates police. Earlier, while being questioned by prosecutor Rob Moran, she described personal humiliation on the night Aiyana was killed.
Jones said she was arrested in her pajamas while officers rushed the gravely wounded girl to a hospital. Jones was driven to a police station, locked up and never told about Aiyana’s condition.
“I don’t feel like I can trust them,” she said of police.
Ron Scott, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, released a statement Tuesday condemning Jones’ treatment by the defense and criticizing the court for chiding her for her behavior.
“It is a travesty of the system to sanction Mertilla Jones for doing what any grandmother would do. After all, this is a woman who sat on the blood-stained couch where her granddaughter was killed four years ago, after police raided her home with cameras in tow. This is the grandmother who, after seeing her granddaughter with a bullet in her head, was taken to jail that same night. She is now only expressing the pain and anguish which cannot be felt, described or quantified by anyone but her. The court should, at the very least, give her that space, a space she has every right to claim.
“The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality questions, not the vigorous defense made by Steve Fishman, counsel for the defendant, but the statements where he refers to ‘this women’ (Ms. Jones) as a ‘fool’ and one who ‘misbehaves.’ The court should not allow such pejorative and biased statements to be made in open court.
“The Coalition favors an honest quest for justice, but not an attack on the sensitivity of one who is seeking justice for one is no longer alive.”
This is Weekley’s second trial. His first ended with a hung jury in June, 2013.
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