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Mother of girl killed in police raid recalls horror


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DETROIT -- The mother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was killed in a police raid three years ago, testified Monday during the first day of testimony in a trial that will determine whether Aiyana's death was a tragic accident or criminal negligence on the part of the Detroit police officer who is accused of firing the fatal shot.

Talking about the night her daughter died became too much for Dominika Stanley

When she regained her composure and returned to the stand, she said she was forced to sit for hours on the bloody couch where her daughter was shot.

STORY: Trial begins in girl's death during Detroit police raid

She said hours passed before officials told her that her daughter had been taken to the hospital.

Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley, 37, is accused of firing the fatal shot in May 2010 during a raid in which police were looking for a murder suspect. He has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death. Testimony in his trial began Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit.

Stanley, 28, sobbed about what happened that night in the home on Lillibridge, on the city's east side.

She was sleeping, heard a loud noise then remembered Mertilla Jones, Aiyana's grandmother, screaming, she said.

"She said they killed Aiyana," Stanley testified.

Officers later took her to the hospital, where doctors told her Aiyana didn't make it.

Stanley's testimony followed opening statements where the prosecution told jurors that Weekley — who had been trained on the use of stun grenades and firearms and trigger discipline as a member of the Special Response Team — was grossly negligent, resulting in the girl's death.

But Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, said the girl died from a "tragic accident" that happened as police attempted to apprehend a man suspected in the "ruthless murder" of a 17-year-old days earlier.

"It was an accident," Fishman said. "He was not careless. He was not reckless."

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran said Weekley entered the home in the early hours with a ballistic shield and sub-machine gun. He told jurors that contrary to earlier statements by Weekley, nobody grabbed the officer's gun and there was no struggle.

"There's no question that Officer Weekley fired that shot that killed Aiyana," he said. "The evidence is not going to show that he intended to murder her; the evidence is going to show that he was grossly negligent."

Witness credibility and the circumstances surrounding how Weekley's gun fired will be key points for both sides during the trial.

A police expert will testify that the only way the gun could fire is if Weekley pulled the trigger, Moran said.

Weekley's attorney questioned the credibility of Jones, Aiyana's grandmother, who is expected to testify. She was with Aiyana in the front room during the raid, and Fishman said her story about what happened that night has changed.

He said Jones, who was probably reacting to a flash-bang grenade — a diversionary device thrown by another officer — reached down and hit Weekley's gun. The officer, who had been trained not to lose control of his gun, pulled back, his hand hit the trigger and the gun discharged, Fishman said.

"That's not gross negligence," he said. " That's not guilty."

The prosecution said jurors will hear Jones testify that she was in a dark room dozing in and out of sleep on the night of the raid. She got back on the couch, covered up her granddaughter, heard the flash-bang grenade go off and fell to the floor, he said.

"She looks up and sees Aiyana's blood everywhere, looks in her eyes and knows that she's been shot," Moran said.

Initially, police thought they were being shot at; it wasn't until later that they found out the girl, who was under a blanket, had been shot, Fishman said.Detroit Police Sgt. Brian Bowser testified Monday about getting a search warrant as officers searched for Chauncey Owens, a suspect in the homicide of 17-year-old Je'Rean Blake, who was shot days earlier.

Owens, who is accused of killing Je'Rean because of what he perceived as a dirty look, was the target of the raid and was captured in the upper flat of the duplex where Aiyana was shot.

Aiyana's father, Charles Jones, is accused of providing the gun used to kill Je'Rean and faces first-degree murder charges in the teen'sdeath along with Owens.

Several of Aiyana's relatives were in court Monday but declined to comment.

Ron Scott, spokesman for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said family members felt like there wasn't enough focus on why Aiyana was killed. "They're really upset," he said.

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sad story. if I read this right, the parents did not provide a safe home for the child. abetting in a murder then harbored the wanted murder. the cop is a victim of the accident too.

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