Mistrial declared in fatal shooting
DETROIT — A judge declared a mistrial on Tuesday after jurors failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a Detroit police officer who fatally shot a 7-year-old girl during a chaotic search for a murder suspect that was recorded by a reality TV crew.
Loud voices could be heard in the jury room a few hours before jurors threw in the towel and were dismissed. They sent three notes, the last one indicating they still couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on the third day of deliberations, despite encouragement from Wayne County Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Joseph Weekley, a member of an elite police squad, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
He was accused of being “grossly negligent” in how he handled his submachine gun as his black-clad, masked and armed unit stormed the Detroit home to capture a suspect in May 2010. Police threw a stun grenade through a window, and Weekley was the first officer through the door.
Weekley told jurors that he accidentally pulled the trigger during a struggle with the girl's grandmother, but Mertilla Jones denied interfering with the gun. Weekley was not charged with intentionally shooting Aiyana.
The hunt for a murder suspect was being recorded by a crew from “The First 48,” a police show on A&E Networks. Some video shot from the sidewalk was part of the evidence.
The jury could have convicted Weekley of involuntary manslaughter, a felony, or reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor. He also could have been cleared of all charges.
“This is a bittersweet outcome: Bitter because Weekley was not convicted, and sweet in that justice for Aiyana Jones will come soon,” said Roland Lawrence, leader of a group called Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee, which pressed for charges.
The judge listed several factors for the jury to consider on the involuntary manslaughter count. To convict, the jury had to find that he willfully disregarded possible injuries to others by failing to control his gun, as well as other elements.
“We are stuck,” the jury said in its first note Tuesday.
Before dismissing the jurors, the judge asked if anyone believed that more deliberations would be fruitful if “some matters” could be addressed. She didn't elaborate. Only one juror raised her hand.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coal’s worst fears affirmed in analysis of Obama climate plan
- Suspect in killings of wealthy D.C. family arrested
- Calif. farmers’ group will cut water use in historic deal
- Ex-Va. lawmaker plans to wed teen in sex scandal
- Senators push for full funding for Amtrak
- Suspect in killings of wealthy DC family arrested
- Skateboard used in attack, officer says of shooting in Olympia, Washington
- Experts cited concerns with medical scope infections in ‘09
- NSA extension up to senators
- 6 Baltimore officers indicted in Gray’s death
- Dogs split from the wolf pack earlier than thought, DNA analysis suggests