Jury deadlocked over fatal shooting by Detroit cop
Oct. 10, 2014
DETROIT (AP) — Jurors were deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial Friday for a Detroit police officer charged with recklessly handling his gun and killing a 7-year-old girl — the second time a verdict couldn't be reached in the case.
The developments came after jurors indicated they were struggling to reach a unanimous decision in the case against Joseph Weekley, and Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway urged them to work out their differences. Weekley's first trial ended without a verdict in June 2013.
Hathaway said Friday that jurors gave her a note saying they were "hopelessly deadlocked."
Seven of the 12 jurors voted to acquit Weekley of recklessly using a firearm, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum punishment of two years in prison. It was the only count remaining after Hathaway last week dismissed a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter against Weekley in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
"There has not been one single day that has gone by since that day where I have not thought about the loss of Aiyana, and I will be haunted by the tragedy for the rest of my life," Weekley said in a statement to radio station WWJ on Friday before the mistrial was declared. "No family ever deserves to lose a child, and I have nothing but sympathy for the family of Aiyana Jones."
A decision about a third trial will be disclosed in court on Nov. 21, the prosecutor's office said.
"I don't understand how we can go through this again and have all this evidence brought forth and there not be a verdict either way," the girl's uncle, Londell Fields, told reporters after the mistrial. "I don't think it's fair because he's a police officer that he gets to get away with this again. That's wrong to me."
The family has filed a civil lawsuit against the Police Department.
"This was an emotional case. There were tears in this room," the jury foreman said. The judge wouldn't allow the man — a minister — and other jurors to have their names used by news reporters.
Aiyana was shot in the head while she slept on a couch in May 2010. Weekley, a member of an elite police unit, was the first officer through the door of the home during a chaotic search for a murder suspect.
Weekley's submachine gun fired seconds after a stun grenade was thrown through a window to confuse anyone inside. He didn't testify but has insisted that he mistakenly pulled the trigger during a struggle with Mertilla Jones, the girl's grandmother.
Police at the scene were accompanied by a camera crew from a TV reality show, "The First 48." The midnight raid was recorded from the outside, not the inside where Aiyana was shot.
A prosecutor told jurors the story about a struggle with the grandmother was a lie intended to cover up Weekley's carelessness.
"His training says, keep your finger off the trigger. ... All he had to do is follow his training and we wouldn't be here," prosecutor Rob Moran said Tuesday.
The grandmother denied interfering with Weekley. Defense attorney Steve Fishman urged the jury to disregard the grandmother's testimony, though, especially after she said she believed Aiyana was intentionally killed.
"No amount of training, no number of missions eliminates the possibility that something can happen," Fishman said in his closing argument.
Associated Press writer Ed White contributed to this report.