A member of an elite Detroit police team who fatally shot a black 7-year-old child during a raid is set to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter.
And jurors have been told to disregard the events happening in Ferguson as they make a decision of whether or not to charge Officer Joseph Weekley.
All sides acknowledge that Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ death was not intentional. But prosecutors say Officer Joseph Weekley’s actions in 2010 were a crime because he handled his submachine gun in a reckless manner.
It is Weekley’s second trial, coming 15 months after another jury failed to reach a verdict.
“There’s a lot of noise in this case – the media, finger-pointing – but it comes down to one simple thing: Was the defendant grossly negligent when he pulled the trigger on his gun?” prosecutor Rob Moran told jurors.
“You have to use ordinary care in the exercise of your duties,” Moran said. “He didn’t follow ordinary care. … If he didn’t pull the trigger, Aiyana would be alive.”
Weekley has said he mistakenly fired the gun while trying to wrest it away from Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, seconds after he led a pack of officers into the home around midnight to find a murder suspect.
Jones denies any interference, but her credibility is a cornerstone of Weekley’s defense. Defense lawyer Steve Fishman plans to highlight some of her provocative statements before the first trial, in which she accused police of intentionally killing Aiyana.
“When you hear a lie of that nature, a lie so outrageous, you shouldn’t trust” her testimony, Fishman told the jury.
During jury selection, candidates were asked about race, and the recent shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The unarmed black teenager was killed by a white office in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9.
Weekley is white and Aiyana was black. Jurors agreed that race and the Ferguson shooting are irrelevant in the trial.
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