No Justice For Slain 7-Year Old

Imagine the consequences if a private citizen is responsible for an accidental shooting. You don’t have to imagine; a Google search provides plenty of horrifying stories. You have the case of Adam Dean Laham, who left a loaded gun in a bedroom with three young children, one of whom grabbed the gun and killed his older brother. There is Logan Murphy, who killed his friend by mistake as they were playing with a loaded gun. Another incident involves Jeremy Dupree, who accidentally shot his girlfriend in a motel.

All three forced to face the consequences of their actions. Deservedly so.

Contrast this with the case of Joseph Weekley, who will not face any consequences for shooting a 7-year old girl sleeping under a blanket. Guess what his profession is? From the Huffington Post:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that her office was moving to dismiss the case against Officer Joseph Weekley. He was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death, a misdemeanor, after Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed in 2010 during a botched police raid at her home.

Weekley’s first trial in 2013 ended in a mistrial. In a second trial last year, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charge after a motion by the defense. The jury again deadlocked while deliberating whether to convict Weekley of the lesser charge, causing a second mistrial.

A little credit should be given to the prosecutors who pursued the charges. But the result reveals our justice system is two-tiered: a system of justice for civilians, and a less-accountable system for public employees.

How did it come to be that a 7-year old was shot during a wrong-door raid?

Shortly after midnight on May 16, 2010, members of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team initiated a raid on the Stanley-Jones home in search of a murder suspect. Weekley was first through the door and allegedly had difficulty seeing when another officer threw a a flash-bang grenade. Weekley fired his gun, killing Aiyana, who had been asleep on the couch with her grandmother.

Weekley maintained that he only shot because the grandmother, Mertilla Jones, struck his gun. She denied touching his weapon, and at trial the prosecution questioned why Weekley had his finger on the trigger.

Why do I suspect the legal system wouldn’t be so accommodating to the “my grandmother caused me to shoot the gun” defense if a civilian made it? But is this scenario even accurate?

Before they rested their case, prosecutors presented the findings of forensic testing that indicated neither Mertilla Jones’ fingerprints nor her DNA were found on the police officer’s submachine gun.

The sad conclusion: Aiyana Jones is dead, and nobody will be held accountable.

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