A Detroit police officer is preparing to stand trial for the second time in the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl, an incident videotaped by a reality TV crew.
Joseph Weekley is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the May 2010 shooting of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. The incident was videotaped for the A&E reality show “The First 48,” with Detroit police serving a warrant to a murder suspect.
The first trial last year ended in a hung jury. Weekley maintained it was all a tragic accident and he has pleaded not guilty, just as he did in his 2013 trial.
Aiyana was sleeping on the couch. Weekley has testified that the girl’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, hit his submachine gun, coming down on it with her arm, causing him to accidentally fire.
Aiyana was shot in the head.
Weekley’s supervisor, Lt. Donald Johnson, told jurors in 2013 that Weekley was devastated following the shooting.
“He was just throwing up and crying and shaking, and just sporadic, 'Why did she hit my gun?'” Johnson said.
Jones insisted that she never went for Weekley’s gun.
“They messed up, and they know they done messed up,” she said.
Geoffrey Fieger, the family’s attorney, said police mishandled the situation and were performing for the TV cameras when Aiyana was killed.
“They knew they were being photographed for a TV show. So, they like to show all their cowboys-and-Indians, tough-guy military look,” Fieger said.
ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said he was surprised that the jury in the first trial could not agree on a lesser misdemeanor charge against Weekley, careless discharge of a firearm causing death.
“The fact that the jurors couldn’t compromise shows you how difficult a case this is,” Abrams said. “There must have been fierce divisions on that jury.”