Death of Aiyana Jones
|Born||Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley Jones
July 20, 2002
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||May 16, 2010
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Cause of death
5210 Mount Elliott Street
Detroit, Michigan 48211
|Other names||Aiyana Stanley-Jones|
|Known for||shot in police raid|
|Parent(s)||Charles Jones (father) Dominika Stanley (mother)|
Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley Jones (July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010), was a seven-year-old girl from the east side of Detroit, Michigan who was shot and killed during a raid conducted by the Detroit Police Department's Special Response Team on May 16, 2010. Her death drew national media attention and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident.
Officer Joseph Weekley was charged in connection with Jones' death. In October 2011, Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. Weekley's first trial ended in a mistrial in June 2013.
Weekley's retrial began in September 2014. On October 3, the judge dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Weekley, leaving him on trial for only one charge: recklessly discharging a firearm.
On January 28, 2015, a prosecutor cleared Weekley of the last remaining charge against him, ensuring there would not be a third trial.
On Friday, May 14, 2010, Southeastern High School senior Je'Rean Blake (other reports call him Je'Rean "Blake" Nobles) was shot and killed near the intersection of Mack and Beniteau on Detroit's east side. By Saturday night, police had identified Chauncey Owens as a suspect in the shooting and obtained a warrant to search 4054 Lillibridge St, where he was believed to be hiding.
Police officers, bystanders, and residents of the home disagreed about the events that followed. According to police, Officer Joseph Weekley was the first one through the door. He pushed his way inside, protected by a ballistic shield. Weekley claimed Aiyana Jones' paternal grandmother Mertilla Jones attempted to grab his gun, causing it to fire. The bullet struck Aiyana. "A woman inside grabbed my gun," Weekley said. "It fired. The bullet hit a child."
Mertilla Jones was held overnight and released. She said she reached for her granddaughter when the grenade came through the window, not for the officer's gun. She said she made no contact with them. Geoffrey Fieger, the family's lawyer, said the police fired the shot that struck Aiyana from outside the home, possibly through the open front door.
After the shot was fired, Weekley reported to his sergeant that a woman inside had grabbed for his gun. Police arrested Mertilla Jones, administered tests for drugs and gunpowder, and released her Sunday morning. Mertilla said that she reached for Aiyana but had no contact with officers. (At Weekley's retrial in 2014, it was disclosed that Mertilla's fingerprints were not found on Weekley's gun.)
The police officer responsible for the shooting, Joseph "Brain" Weekley, is a member of Detroit's SWAT team and was a frequent subject on A&E, whose film crews were also filming the investigation for the documentary TV series The First 48.
Three days later, Chauncey Owens was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Je'Rean Blake. Aiyana's father Charles Jones was also held in conspiracy of the murder of Je'Rean Blake and is believed to be the person who provided the gun that killed Blake.
In a last-minute plea bargain, Chauncey Owens admitted to killing 17-year-old Je'Rean Blake and agreed to testify that Charles Jones (Aiyana's father) gave him the gun he used to shoot the teen for giving him a dirty look. In a voice so soft that Wayne County Circuit Judge Richard Skutt had him repeat his statement, Owens said he got the gun "from C.J. ... Charles Jones." Jones had been placed in the truck with Owens before, but Owens' admission was the first time anyone said on the record that he was more than a passive observer. Michigan law says that anyone who "procures, counsels, aids or abets" in the commission of a crime may be tried and convicted as if he or she had directly committed the offense. The plea to second-degree murder calls for Owens to serve 28 years for the killing and an additional two years for using a gun in the commission of a felony, in exchange for his testimony about who gave him the gun.
Both Owens and Charles Jones had extensive criminal pasts. In 1995, Owens was charged with breaking and entering and faced charges for escaping from prison. In 2005, he was charged with unlawfully driving an automobile. Jones was charged in 2001 with two counts of unarmed robbery. In 2004, Jones was charged with fleeing and eluding police while driving a stolen vehicle. The charges were later dropped. Jones never actually spent time in jail, and instead cut a deal with prosecutors and was placed on probation.
After a one year internal and federal investigation, on October 4, 2011, a grand jury indicted Officer Joseph Weekley on involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. His trial was scheduled for October, and finally took place in June 2013 but resulted in a deadlocked jury. A fresh trial was scheduled for December 2013, but actually began in September 2014.
Allison Howard, a videographer and photographer with A&E who was also present at the raid, was indicted on obstruction of justice and perjury for allegedly showing a recording of the raid to a "third party".[unreliable source?] Federal prosecutors say that Howard had provided false testimony to investigators about the shooting and that Weekley's action were reckless and he had lied to the police in an effort to blame Jones' family for her death. In June 2013, Howard pled "no contest" to an obstruction of justice charge, and the perjury charge against her was dismissed. She was sentenced to two years of probation in July 2013 and was fined $2,000.
On the second day of trial, September 24, LaKrystal Sanders, who lived on the upper floor of the house where Aiyana was killed, testified. LaKrystal Sanders was Aiyana's paternal aunt, the girlfriend of Chauncey Owens and the daughter of Mertilla Jones. While LaKrystal Sanders was on the stand, Judge Cynthia Hathaway told her that she (LaKrystal Sanders) was being "disrespectful." Aiyana's mother Dominika Stanley and paternal grandmother Mertilla Jones testified and both had "emotional outbursts." After the grandmother's outburst, the judge ordered the jury out of the room and the grandmother was escorted from the court room screaming. Because of Mertilla Jones's outburst, the judge stopped the trial until September 29.
On September 29, Weekley's lawyer asked the judge for a mistrial, citing Mertilla Jones's conduct on the stand the week before. The judge denied the motion for mistrial, saying she believed the jury could still be "impartial." However, the judge also said if Mertilla Jones and the other relatives continued to have outbursts on the stand, then she would declare a mistrial.
On October 10, the judge declared a mistrial due to jury deadlock.
On January 28, 2015, county prosecutor Kym Worthy dismissed the last remaining charge against Weekley: the misdemeanor of careless discharge of a firearm causing death. Weekley will not go to a third trial.
Aiyana Jones' funeral was held in the Second Ebenezer Church on May 22, 2010 in Detroit. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy. The casket was white and was afterwards driven to the grave by horse-drawn carriage. She was buried on the grounds.
Fieger video claim
Fieger claims that footage from an undisclosed source shows that the lethal bullet came from outside the home, rather than inside, as police said. A spokesman for city police demanded that Fieger share the tape's contents with Michigan State Police investigators. Fieger responded by saying he does not have the supposed video, which he claims was made by the A&E reality show The First 48. Michigan State Police Detective Tawana Powell testified during the 2014 trial that the investigation discovered that the video Fieger was talking about didn't exist.
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- "UPDATE: Aiyana Jones' Funeral". Essence. May 23, 2010. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
Aiyana Stanley Jones was laid to reston (sic) Saturday at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, Michigan.
- Williams, Corey; Ed White (May 18, 2010). "Attorney files 2 lawsuits in death of Detroit girl". Associated Press.
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- Schaerfer, Jim (May 18, 2010). "Fieger says police shooting no accident, he has proof". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- Corey Williams and Ed White (May 17, 2010). "Aiyana Jones case, attorney says Video shows police fired into Detroit home". Associated Press.
- Video on YouTube
- Joe "Brain" Weekley's webpage at A&E: Meet the SWAT Teams
- Joe Weekley at the Internet Movie Database
- Allison Howard at the Internet Movie Database