By ED WHITE
DETROIT (AP) – Prosecutors pressed the jury for a misdemeanor conviction Tuesday after a judge dismissed a more serious charge against a Detroit police officer who is accused of recklessly handling his gun in the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl.
Officer Joseph Weekley didn’t intentionally kill Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010, but she would still be alive if he had kept his finger off the trigger when he stormed a house to look for a murder suspect, prosecutor Rob Moran said.
Weekley told fellow officers that he mistakenly fired his gun when Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, grabbed the weapon. Moran was blunt with the jury: “It did not happen. … When he got caught, he lied.”
Weekley was “reckless, careless and negligent,” Moran said.
Jurors discussed the case for two hours before going home for the day.
Wayne County Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway shook up the trial Friday when she dismissed a charge of involuntary manslaughter, saying prosecutors had failed to show that Weekley’s actions were willful. Moran said she used the wrong legal standard, but the Michigan appeals court said it had no authority to intervene and let the decision stand Monday.
Defense attorney Steve Fishman said Aiyana’s death was a tragic accident, not a crime. No amount of training, he said, can prepare an officer for every midnight scenario in the hunt for a dangerous suspect.
Led by Weekley, police in black, military-style gear threw a stun grenade through a window and burst through the door. A video crew from a reality TV show, “The First 48,” was recording outside.
Aiyana was sleeping on a couch near the front door when she was shot. Weekley said Jones, at the other end of the couch, suddenly interfered with him. She denied it.
Fishman said Jones has no credibility after stating she believed Aiyana was intentionally killed.
Aiyana’s death was “terrible, but you can’t go in there and say, `I have sympathy and somebody’s got to pay for this,”‘ Fishman told jurors.
Weekley didn’t testify, unlike his first trial, which ended without a verdict in June 2013. If he’s convicted, the maximum penalty is two years in prison.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.