Filming of raid questioned in Weekley trial testimony

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A TV crew's filming of a raid on a home where a 7-year-old girl was killed was the topic of testimony Monday in the retrial of the Detroit police officer accused in the shooting.

Prosecutors played the video from the raid, which was captured by a crew from the reality cable television show, "First 48," showing a confusing scene, with mere seconds separating Officer Joseph Weekley entering the home and the sound of a gunshot.

Weekley is accused of involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a weapon after he fatally shot 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones as she slept on a living room couch during the raid in May 2010.

Homicide Sgt. Brian Bowser testified Monday high-ranking police officials allowed the TV crew to accompany the raid.

"That was a discussion among the supervisors," he said.

Sgt. Robert Lalone, also of the Homicide Section, testified he was at the side of the house seconds after the raid crew went in, and saw an officer carrying Aiyana.

"She was under his arm; she appeared to be unconscious, slumped over," he said. "I realized something had happened."

Police raided Aiyana's home looking for Chauncey Owens, a family friend who days earlier fatally shot 17-year-old Southeastern High School student Je'Rean Blake because he looked at him the wrong way. Owens and Aiyana's father, Charles Jones, who handed him the murder weapon, were convicted in the killing.

Weekley claims Aiyana's mother, Mertilla Jones, slapped at his machine gun as he entered the home seconds after police deployed a "flash bang" grenade, which emits a bright light and is meant to disorient suspects. Jones is expected to take the witness stand again this week.

Jones testified during the first trial that Weekley and his squad, the Special Response Team, were out to kill someone, and Weekley put his gun to Aiyana's head and shot her execution-style.

Lalone said raids don't play out like they do on television crime dramas.

"There's nothing choreographed or scripted like on TV," he said. "We never know what's behind a door; you never know what you're walking into."

Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, asked Lalone: "You don't have any reason to think that Officer Weekley did anything that wasn't consistent with this training, do you?"

Lalone replied: "Absolutely not, sir."

Former Detroit Police officer Raymond Trammell, who retired Friday, also testified Monday. He was an instructor in the Detroit Police Academy who later joined the Special Response Team.

Trammell said during the 640 hours of training to join the elite unit, candidates were taught how to handle a firearm. That's a crucial component of Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran's case, since he contends Weekley deviated from his training by keeping his finger on the trigger of his weapon during the raid. It was brought up several times during the first trial.

Trammell, who watched the house prior to the raid, saw Owens and another man come outside. "I noticed someone coming out," he said. "He walked about 10 feet away from my car.

"I was tucked down in my seat; I don't know if they made me or not. I conveyed the message to our crew that I think our suspect was walking in the street."

Trammell said he called for backup, but that Owens went back into the house before they arrived.

Moran asked Trammell why he didn't just get out of his car and arrest Owens.

"My mission was surveillance," Trammell said. "That's against our policy. Unless it's a life-threatening situation, we're supposed to stay put."

Weekley's first trial in June 2013 was declared a mistrial after jurors could not reach a verdict.

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