DETROIT — Beneath a multi-colored quilt of Disney cartoon characters, 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones lay peacefully on the living room couch of her grandmother’s first-floor flat on Detroit’s east side.
Mertilla Jones lay at the other end, having recently put the girl to sleep.
Within seconds — maybe as few as three — a stun grenade smashed through a window, exploding over the couch.
Armed, black-clad and masked police officers swarmed into the living room and, moments later, Aiyana lay bleeding to death with a gunshot wound to her head.
“As soon as they came in, their guns were just pointing right there, and he pulled the trigger,” Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones said Monday of Joseph Weekley during the Detroit police officer’s involuntary manslaughter trial in Wayne County Circuit Court.
“I seen the light leave out of her eyes and the blood started gushing out her mouth and she was dead,” testified the 50-year-old Jones, who then broke into tears.
For members of the Detroit police special response team, the May 2010 nighttime raid on the two-family flat on Lillibridge was one of hundreds they had taken part in as a unit. This time they were being shadowed by a crew from the reality TV show, “The First 48.”
Armed with an MP5 submachine gun and behind a shield, team veteran Weekley was selected as point man for the operation — tasked with being first into the home in search of murder suspect, Chauncey Owens.
Weekley has said his gun accidentally fired when Mertilla Jones bumped into him or grabbed it. Prosecutors say he was negligent in failing to control his weapon.
Jones testified she rolled onto the floor after the noise and flash from the grenade, and was on her stomach when Weekley stormed in.
She said Aiyana’s head was propped against the armrest of the couch as she slept and Weekley was holding the gun right next to the armrest when his weapon discharged.
“The gun went off and shot her in the head. I started screaming and hollering. ... `Y’all done killed my grandbaby,”’ Jones told the courtroom.
Special response team member Larry Davis testified Monday that Weekley told him after the shooting that someone grabbed his weapon.
“I told him things would be OK. That’s about it,” Davis said.
Last week, a neighbor testified that he tried to tell officers before they raided the home that children were inside. Under cross-examination Monday, Jones said the officers were negligent.
“They knew there were children in there. So why would they come in there like that? They came to kill, and they killed a 7-year-old.”
Davis, the officer who tossed the stun grenade, said the team was unaware children were inside.
When asked by prosecutors if knowing children were in the house would have forced police to change raid tactics, Davis responded: “Probably not.”
It was Owens they were after. Two days before the raid 17-year-old Je’rean Blake was standing outside a neighborhood convenience store when he was shot to death following a dispute.
Mertilla Jones testified that Owens lived in the upper unit with her daughter, LaKrystal Sanders. Police found Owens in the upstairs flat and he was arrested.
Owens pleaded guilty in April 2011 to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison for Blake’s slaying.MORE IN Wire NewsWASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen came under fire Wednesday from House Republicans,... Full StoryKRAKOW, Poland — Filmmaker Roman Polanski appeared in a court in Poland on Wednesday for a... Full StoryPANJSHIR VALLEY, Afghanistan — Avalanches caused by a heavy winter snow killed at least 124... Full Story
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