Cop in Aiyana Stanley-Jones shooting back on the job

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — After nearly five years, the officer who accidentally killed 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones during a raid being filmed by a TV camera crew has been restored to active duty as a Detroit police officer.

Officer Joseph Weekley has not been on active duty since shortly after the May 16, 2010, raid of a flat on Lillibridge Street on the city's east side that ended in Aiyana's death. Weekley led a Special Response Team crew into the flat, looking for a killer who'd gunned down a 17-year-old days earlier.

Weekley was officially restored to active duty April 2, when he was transferred from the Special Response Team to the Criminal Investigations Bureau, although he won't start work for a few weeks, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Friday.

"He's on vacation now, but when he returns, he'll be in a limited duty capacity," Craig said. "He won't be in the field."

Members of Aiyana's family and Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Weekley led the Detroit Police Special Response Team into the residence on Lillibridge on the city's east side. He said that seconds after entering the home the girl's grandmother, Mertilla Jones, slapped at his MP-5 sub-machine gun, causing it to fire a bullet that killed Aiyana, who was sleeping on a couch in the living room with her grandmother.

The cable TV show "The First 48" was filming the nighttime raid, which featured a flash-bang grenade to stun the home's occupants.

A hung jury in his first trial in June 2013 caused a mistrial to be declared. During his second trial, Wayne Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway threw out a manslaughter charge, and the jury again failed to reach a verdict on a misdemeanor charge of reckless discharge, and a second mistrial was declared last year. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy declined to try Weekley a third time.

Earlier this month, Aiyana's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Weekley, Robert Rowe, the Detroit Police Department and members of the Special Response Team.

The lawsuit, which seeks at least $75,000 in damages, alleges Weekley and Rowe used excessive force, violated Aiyana's civil rights and tried to cover up circumstances surrounding the shooting.

"Defendants Joseph Weekly and Robert Rowe unlawfully seized Aiyana Stanley-Jones, used excessive force against her and unlawfully used deadly force thereby inflicting horrendous personal injuries and ultimately death from which certain damages naturally followed to the members of Aiyana Stanley-Jones family and/or estate," the lawsuit said.

Before the fatal raid, Weekley had a reputation in the police department as one of the top members of the Special Response Team. His co-workers gave him the nickname "Brain" because he was always thinking.

Weekley was also involved in children's charities. He initiated a S.W.A.T. for Tots program that gave toys to underprivileged children, and was involved in another children's charity, "Run with the Cops, not From Them," which raised money for kids with cancer.

After Hathaway dropped the murder charges, Weekley issued a text message, his only public statement about the incident:

"No matter the outcome of any jury's decision, I have already been devastated and my life has been ruined irreparably by the events that occurred on May 16, 2010. 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 this tragedy for the rest of my life."

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