Death of Aiyana Jones

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Aiyana Jones
Aiyana Jones.jpg
Aiyana Jones
Aiyana MoNay Stanley-Jones

(2002-07-20)July 20, 2002
DiedMay 16, 2010(2010-05-16) (aged 7)
Cause of deathGunshot wound to the head
Resting placeTrinity Cemetery[1]
5210 Mount Elliott Street
Detroit, Michigan 48211
Other namesAiyana Stanley-Jones
CitizenshipUnited States
Known forShot in police raid
Weight59 lb (27 kg)
Parent(s)Charles Jones (father) Dominika Stanley (mother)[2]

Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones (July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010), was a seven-year-old African-American 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.[3] Her death drew national media attention[4] and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7][8][9] On October 10, the second trial ended in another mistrial.[10][11] On January 28, 2015, a prosecutor cleared Weekley of the last remaining charge against him, ensuring there would not be a third trial.[12]


On May 14, 2010, Southeastern High School senior Je'Rean Blake[13][14][15] was shot and killed near the intersection of Mack and Beniteau on Detroit's east side. By the end of the following day, 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. But they raided the wrong house.[16]


According to press reports, police were on the scene by 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, May 16, 2010. In an attempt to distract the occupants, police fired a flash grenade through the front window.[17][18] Officer Joseph Weekley claimed that the flash grenade subsequently blinded his view of the person on the couch in the living room.[19]

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.[citation needed] He pushed his way inside, protected by a ballistic shield. Weekley claimed Aiyana Jones' paternal grandmother Mertilla Jones attempted to slap his MP 5 submachine gun, causing it to fire. The bullet struck Aiyana killing the young girl. Weekley stated, "A woman inside grabbed my gun. It fired. The bullet hit a child."[20][21]

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, because the flash grenade had set the child on fire. 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.[3]

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.[22] Mertilla said that she reached for Aiyana but had no contact with officers.[3] At Weekley's retrial in 2014, it was disclosed that Mertilla's fingerprints were not found on Weekley's gun.[23]

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.[24]

Chauncey Owens, who was the boyfriend of Aiyana's aunt,[25] was found in the upper floor of the duplex and surrendered without incident.[3]


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. He admitted in his first trial that, "It's my gun that shot and killed a 7-year-old girl."[26] His trial was scheduled for October[27] and finally took place in June 2013 but resulted in a deadlocked jury. A fresh trial was scheduled for December 2013,[28] but actually began in September 2014.[29]

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 "copying, showing or giving video footage that she shot of the raid to third parties".[30] Federal prosecutors say that Howard had provided false testimony to investigators about the shooting and that Weekley's action were reckless and she had lied to the police in an effort to blame Jones' family for her death.[citation needed] In June 2013, Howard pleaded "no contest" to an obstruction of justice charge, and the perjury charge against her was dismissed.[31][32] She was sentenced to two years of probation in July 2013 and was fined $2,000.[33][34]


Weekley's first trial ended in a mistrial in June 2013.[6] Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway presided over the case.[35] Aiyana's case would be the longest presiding case that Hathaway had in more than 20 years of being on the bench.


Weekley's retrial started in September 2014.[36] He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and "negligent firing of a weapon causing death".[37][38]

On the second day of trial, September 24, LaKrystal Sanders, who lived on the upper floor of the house where Aiyana was killed, testified.[39] LaKrystal Sanders was Aiyana's paternal aunt, the girlfriend of Chauncey Owens and the daughter of Mertilla Jones.[40] While LaKrystal Sanders was on the stand, Judge Cynthia Hathaway told her that she (LaKrystal Sanders) was being "disrespectful."[40][41] 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.[39][42][43][44] Because of Mertilla Jones's outburst, the judge stopped the trial until September 29.[45]

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.[37]

On October 3, the judge dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Weekley.[7][8][9] On October 10, the judge declared a mistrial due to jury deadlock.[46] 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.[12]


The jury claimed that race did not affect the decision of their verdict. The jury stall resulted in seven voting "not guilty" and five voting "guilty".[47]


Aiyana Jones' funeral was held in the Second Ebenezer Church on May 22, 2010 in Detroit. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy. Charles Jones, the father of Aiyana Jones, wore a black suit with a pink tie and pink handkerchief in remembrance of his daughter. It was her favorite color. Dominika Stanley, the mother of Aiyana Jones, unable to bear the reality of her daughter being gone at the beginning of the funeral service, later sat by Aiyana's casket feeling a sense of comfort being in her presence.[48] The casket was white and was afterwards driven to the grave by horse-drawn carriage.[49] She was buried on the grounds.[50]



A civil rights lawsuit questions Weekly's account of the incident, claiming the grenade had gone through the window and struck Aiyana. The lawsuit asserts that police were outside of the home where they "blindly fired random shots," and, in result, one of the bullets fatally struck the 7-year-old child in the neck. The lawsuit charges Rowe and Weekly for the unlawful use of excessive force. Furthermore, the police department and unnamed supervisors of the Special Response Team in the city of Detroit are being sued for violating the civil rights of Aiyana Jones through their training and policy procedure. The family is seeking $7.5 million in damages and a jury trial conceded by the court filing.[51] Two days after Aiyana's death, on May 18, 2010, attorney Geoffrey Fieger filed lawsuits on behalf of Aiyana's family against A&E and the police.[52][53]

Fieger video claim[edit]

Fieger claims that footage from an undisclosed source shows that the lethal bullet came from outside the home, rather than inside, as police said.[54] 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,[55] which he claims was made by the A&E reality show The First 48.[56] Michigan State Police Detective Tawana Powell testified during the 2014 trial that the investigation discovered that the video Fieger was talking about did not exist.[57]

John Weekley Follow-Up

On April 2, 2015, nearly 5 years following the accidental shooting of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Weekley has been reestablished to active duty as a Detroit police officer. The department decided to withdraw the police officer from active duty shortly after the incident that took place on May 16, 2010. Weekley was transferred from Special Response Team to the Criminal Investigations Bureau. Police Chief James Craig states, "He'll be in a limited duty capacity. He won't be in the field."[58]

Popular media[edit]

In September 2013, J. Cole published a music video to his song known as "Crooked Smile" featuring TLC on YouTube, and he dedicated the video to Aiyana Stanley-Jones.[59][60][61]


In May 2016, BlackMattersUS[62] held a rally in memory of Jones.[63] Families of people killed by police officers and activists gathered at the feet of the Spirit of Detroit statue in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal building in Detroit.[64] On July 20, 2016 Detroit police arrested six unknown individuals for chaining themselves to a precinct of the Detroit Police Department. The rally was in honor of Aiyana Jones. The Detroit chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) and the Black Lives Matter Detroit organized the rally on what would have Aiyana's 14th birthday. The protestors pleaded for the termination of Weekly as he had recently been selected to co-chair the Detroit Police Department's Committee on Race and Equality. Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, said, "Accountability needs to be expected from cases like this, because cops can't keep killing people and getting away with it."[65]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?". Mother Jones.
  2. ^ "Trial Opens For Detroit Officer Who Killed Girl During Police Raid Filmed For TV".
  3. ^ a b c d Schaefer, Jim (May 19, 2010). "Detroit police outline final moments of Aiyana's life". Detroit Free Press. p. A1. Archived from the original on May 22, 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  4. ^ Dolan, Matthew; Mike Ramsey (May 17, 2010). "State to Probe Police Killing of Girl in Detroit". The Wall Street Journal. Detroit. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  5. ^ Angel, Cecil; Todd Spangler; George Sipple (May 20, 2010). "Conyers seeks federal probe of Aiyana's death". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Aiyana Stanley-Jones Update: Mistrial declared in manslaughter trial of Detroit cop in death of 7-yr.-old girl". 18 June 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Judge dismisses involuntary manslaughter charge against Detroit - Fox 2 News Headlines". 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06.
  8. ^ a b Elisha Anderson; Detroit Free Press (3 October 2014). "Manslaughter charge dismissed in cop's shooting of girl". USA TODAY.
  9. ^ a b [1]
  10. ^ "Second mistrial declared in fatal shooting of Aiyana Stanley-Jones by Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley". 10 October 2014.
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times (10 October 2014). "Second mistrial in case of Detroit cop who accidentally killed child".
  12. ^ a b "Charges Dismissed Against Joseph Weekley, Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old [UPDATE]". The Huffington Post.
  13. ^ "What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?". Mother Jones.
  14. ^ "Detroit children dying in culture of violence". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on 2014-11-17.
  15. ^ "Where's the outrage? One year later, Aiyana Stanely Jones investigation mired in delays".
  16. ^ Swickard, Joe (May 19, 2010). "Homicide suspect hunted in raid that led to Aiyana's death is charged". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  17. ^ "DPD officer involved in Aiyana Jones shooting identified". WXYZ. May 19, 2010. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  18. ^ Warikoo, Niraj; Meyer, Zlati & Hunt, Amber (May 17, 2010). "Police, family look for answers in girl's death in Detroit". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  19. ^ Reporter, Kate Abbey-Lambertz National; Post, The Huffington (2014-09-17). "How A Police Officer Shot A Sleeping 7-Year-Old To Death". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  20. ^ Jorge Rivas (Oct 4, 2011). "Detroit Police Officer Charged in Shooting Death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones". Colorlines. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  21. ^ Sara E. Teller (September 21, 2018). "Michigan Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal in Weekley Case". Legal Reader. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  22. ^ Gutherie, Doug; George Hunter (May 19, 2010). "Slain girl's family alleges police cover-up". The Detroit News. Southfield. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  23. ^ "Grandmother's fingerprints, DNA not found on Officer Weekley's submachine gun". WXYZ. Archived from the original on 2016-04-11. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  24. ^ Foley, Aaron (May 18, 2010). "Officer whose bullet reportedly killed Aiyana Jones was frequently featured on A&E". Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  25. ^ Williams, Corey (May 20, 2010). "Mayor: Detroit doesn't know 'how to stop' killings". Associated Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  26. ^ "Detroit police officer who shot 7-year-old returns to job after half decade on leave". Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  27. ^ Williams, Corey (October 5, 2011). "Joseph Weekley, Detroit Police Officer, Charged In Aiyana Stanley-Jones' Death During 'The First 48' Raid". The Huffington Post. AOL Time Warner. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  28. ^ Woods, Ashley (September 19, 2013). "Cop Who Shot 7-Year-Old To Death Will Be Retried". Huffington Post.
  29. ^ Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer (15 September 2014). "Second trial to begin today for officer in Aiyana's death". Lansing State Journal.
  30. ^ "A&E 'The First 48' producer who filmed Aiyana Jones shooting admits to obstructing justice". Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  31. ^ "Photographer pleads no contest to obstruction of justice in Aiyana Stanley-Jones case". Detroit Free Press.
  32. ^ "Videographer pleads in fatal Detroit police raid". The Big Story. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06.
  33. ^ Eric D. Lawrence; Detroit Free Press (25 July 2013). "Videographer in fatal police raid gets probation". USA TODAY.
  34. ^ "Videographer in Aiyana Stanley-Jones raid gets 2 years of probation". Detroit Free Press.
  35. ^ "Judge declares mistrial in Aiyana case after jurors fail to reach verdict". Detroit Free Press.
  36. ^ Elisha Anderson; Detroit Free Press (18 September 2014). "In cop's retrial, attorneys at odds over how girl died". USA TODAY.
  37. ^ a b "Emotional 'show' put on by grandmother of slain 7-year-old Aiyana Jones not grounds for mistrial, judge says".
  38. ^ "Detroit police officer back on trial accused of manslaughter in Aiyana Jones killing".
  39. ^ a b Elisha Anderson; Detroit Free Press (24 September 2014). "Mertilla Jones testified in Weekley case". Detroit Free Press.
  40. ^ a b George Hunter; The Detroit News (24 September 2014). "Weekley may seek retrial over tirade by witness". Detroit News.
  41. ^ George Hunter; The Detroit News (2 October 2014). "Weekley prosecution nears its conclusion". Detroit News.
  42. ^ "RAW VIDEO: Emotional outburst from grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones halts Joseph Weekley retrial". WXYZ. Archived from the original on 2014-09-27. Retrieved 2014-09-25.
  43. ^ "Grandmother to Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley: 'You killed my grandbaby'".
  44. ^ WDIV. "Emotional outburst halts trial for Detroit officer in girl's death". ClickOnDetroit.
  45. ^ "Officer Weekley trial halted until Monday after emotions run high - Fox 2 News Headlines". 24 September 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-09-26.
  46. ^ George Hunter; The Detroit News (10 October 2014). "Mistrial declared in Weekley's case". Detroit News.
  47. ^ "Judge cites 'justice' in dropping charge against cop". Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  48. ^ "Surviving The Painful Funeral Of Aiyana Jones". Global Grind. 2010-05-22. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
  49. ^ "Funeral for Aiyana Stanley-Jones". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  50. ^ "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.
  51. ^ Abbey- Lambertz, Kate (April 2, 2015). "Lawsuit Alleges Police Cover-Up In Fatal Shooting Of Sleeping 7-Year-Old Aiyana Stanley-Jones".
  52. ^ Williams, Corey; Ed White (May 18, 2010). "Attorney files 2 lawsuits in death of Detroit girl". Associated Press.
  53. ^ "Family of slain 7-year-old Aiyana Jones sues A&E for reality TV crew at Detroit police raid".
  54. ^ Hunter, George; Doug Guthrie; Francis X. Donnelly (May 18, 2010). "State to probe girl's slaying; lawyer disputes cops' account". The Detroit News. Detroit. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  55. ^ Schaerfer, Jim (May 18, 2010). "Fieger says police shooting no accident, he has proof". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  56. ^ Corey Williams and Ed White (May 17, 2010). "Aiyana Jones case, attorney says Video shows police fired into Detroit home". Associated Press.
  57. ^ JOSEPH WEEKLEY RETRIAL- DAY 8. YouTube. 2 October 2014.
  58. ^ "Cop in Aiyana Stanley-Jones shooting back on the job". Detroit News. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  59. ^ Video on YouTube
  60. ^ Korina Lopez, USA TODAY (19 September 2013). "J. Cole dedicates video to dead 7-year-old girl". USA TODAY.
  61. ^ "J. Cole Dedicates 'Crooked Smile' Video To Slain 7-Year-Old Girl". MTV News.
  62. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. Retrieved 2016-05-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)[unreliable source?]
  63. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-05-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  64. ^ "Rally marks 2010 death of Aiyana in police raid". 2016-05-21. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  65. ^ Gross, Allie. "Six arrested during rally honoring Aiyana Stanley-Jones". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 2017-03-09.

External links[edit]