DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit police officer who accidentally killed a 7-year-old girl during a search for a murder suspect nearly five years ago has been restored to active duty.
Police Chief James Craig said Joseph Weekley has been assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau.
“He’ll be in a limited duty capacity,” Craig told The Detroit News. “He won’t be in the field.”
In May 2010, Weekley was a member of an elite group of officers that burst through the door of a home to find a murder suspect. Aiyana Stanley-Jones was shot in the head as she slept on a couch in the living room.
Weekley insists he accidentally pulled the trigger when Aiyana’s grandmother grabbed his gun as officers burst into her home. The grandmother, who’s offered some very emotional testimony, denied any interference.
Aiyana’s death capped a chaotic night. With a reality TV crew outdoors, filming for A&E’s “The First 48,” Weekley and other members of Detroit’s Special Response Team raided the home in riot gear after first throwing a stun grenade through a window. It released smoke, bright light and vibrations to confuse anyone inside.
Aiyana’s family members believe the officers involved were more concerned about how they looked on TV than they were about properly conducting their police work. The incident led to a ban by then-Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on TV crews going out with police.
Weekley’s first two trials resulted in hung juries and a judge dismissed a charge of involuntary manslaughter last October, saying no evidence was presented to support it. A misdemeanor charge of recklessly using a firearm was subsequently dropped.
In early 2014, the man whom police were trying to find during the raid, Chauncey Owens, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being found guilty of first-degree murder. Owens was convicted of killing a 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake outside a Detroit party store in 2010. Aiyana’s father, Charles Jones, was convicted of second-degree murder in the case. According to police, Charles Jones provided the gun and Owens pulled the trigger.
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