Aiyana’s family, group say more than a warrant due for fatal cop raid

http://www.detnews.com/article/20110305/METRO01/103050347/1409/Aiyana%E2%80%99s-family–group-say-more-than-a-warrant-due-for-fatal-cop-raid

Last Updated: March 05. 2011 1:00AM

Aiyana’s family, group say more than a warrant due for fatal cop raid

Doug Guthrie and Mike Wilkinson / The Detroit News

Detroit— The family of a 7-year-old girl killed by police last spring is outraged that only one person could be charged in the fatally flawed raid, saying the system failed Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

The girl was killed by a bullet from a police weapon while sleeping on a living room sofa early on May 16.

Officers were raiding her east side home in a search for a murder suspect.

Outside, as a camera crew from the A&E cable network show “The First 48” filmed, the Detroit Police Special Response Team broke a front window, tossed in a stun grenade, and Officer Joseph Weekley entered the house. A bullet from his gun killed the girl.

“I want justice for Aiyana — person to person, a trial for the person who did this to her,” the girl’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, 48, said at a press conference Friday.

“Against all of them who did this to our family,” added her daughter and the girl’s aunt, LaKrystal Sanders.

Michigan State Police said Thursday that a 10-month investigation resulted in their request for a warrant against an unnamed male. No other details were revealed.

A decision on whether to charge that person and with what will be made after a review by Wayne County prosecutors. There is no timetable for a decision, according to prosecutor’s spokeswoman Maria Miller, who said the report “contains hundreds of pages … and a great deal of evidence.”

Mertilla Jones was taken into custody for 12 hours immediately after the incident and accused by police of causing the shooting by wrestling with Weekley over his gun. After her release, police said the shooting was a result of a collision between Weekley and the grandmother, who had been sleeping on the sofa next to the girl.

Lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, who represents the family in lawsuits against police and the TV show, has said a video recording shows Weekley fired his gun before entering the front door. Fieger has claimed police almost immediately launched a cover-up.

Friday, Mertilla Jones said she is angry that just one charge may be filed. She said no authorities have called to update the family on the investigation or its result.

She said doesn’t eat or sleep since the incident and has lost 50 pounds from what she called a minor stroke.

“People expect us to get over it,” she said. “You can’t put a time on getting over it. We’re all still grieving. I miss her.”

The women spoke Friday along with representatives of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality during a news conference at an east side social club. Group leader Ron Scott said two people should be charged — Weekley and the officer who threw the stun grenade — because both represent assaults. Scott said the Police Department has become “militarized.”

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan, also attended the conference and said Detroit Police have a “mindset that treats citizens as enemy combatants.”

Scott said the coalition intends to seek documents related to the investigation and wants answers to numerous questions, including who planned the raid, who gave the order to throw the grenade and who agreed to let the film crew go along.

“It was a production, a film production,” said Sandra Hines, a coalition member. “Their concern wasn’t police work; it was how they would look on ‘First 48.'”The television show was recording the department’s search for Chauncey Owens, a suspect in the murder of Je’Rean Blake Nobles, shot outside a nearby liquor store almost 48 hours earlier. Owens was captured without incident in a simultaneous raid on a separate residence upstairs. LaKrystal Sanders was Owens’ girlfriend. He is set for trial in April if he is ruled mentally fit in a competency hearing later this month.

 

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