DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Prosecutors have lost an appeal of a decision that throws out the most serious charge in the fatal police shooting of a 7-year-old Detroit girl.
A three-judge Michigan appeals court panel said it’s barred from reviewing a decision made last week by Wayne County Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
After the brief order was released Monday, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Officer immediately announced it would be filing an Emergency Motion for Reconsideration with the Michigan Court of Appeals.
A member of an elite Detroit police unit, Officer Joseph Weekley admits mistakenly pulled the trigger and killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones during a chaotic search for a murder suspect in 2010.
Judge Hathaway dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge after prosecutors finished presenting evidence last week.
“I don’t see the evidence that (Weekley) willfully disregarded the results to others,” Hathaway said. “The entire trial has basically been about the carelessness of the defendant, based on his skills. If I am going to err, I’m going to err on the side of the defense.”
WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton said the Hathaway’s decision was unexpected, as judged generally tend to let questions like this go to the jury.
Aiyana’ was killed on May 16, 2010 as she slept on a couch in her home, when police burst in in search for a man wanted for murder.
Weekley, a member of an elite police unit, insists he accidentally fired when Aiyana’s grandmother grabbed his gun as officers burst through the door of her home. Mertilla Jones, who offered some very emotional testimony, denies any interference.
Prosecutor Rob Moran last week told the trial judge that he never suggested Weekley intended to kill Aiyana. He said he had to show that the officer ignored his training.
The raid was being filmed for the A&E TV show “The First 48.” 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.
A spokesman “The Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee” — a community group that pressed for charges in Aiyana’s death — accused the judge of misconduct. Roland Lawrence said Hathaway was “circumventing the role of the jury.”
Monday afternoon the group released the following statement.
“The Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee as well as many groups around the world have worked for many years to exact justice for the reckless and avoidable killing of 7-year old Aiyana Jones by the Detroit Police as she slept in her grandmother’s arms. Obviously, the courts of justice do not value the
lives of poor, Black youth, and, thus, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled as it has,” said Roland Lawrence, chairman for the group, in a statement out Monday afternoon.
“That being said, we are pushing for a review of this matter by the Michigan Supreme Court. Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society. Aiyana’s family remains devastated, and this ruling by the high court does not help to ease their pain.”
Weekley still facing a misdemeanor charge of reckless discharge of a firearm. It’s his second trial after a jury last year couldn’t reach a verdict.
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