Death of Aiyana Jones

Aiyana Jones
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Aiyana Jones
Born Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley Jones
(2002-07-20)July 20, 2002
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died May 16, 2010(2010-05-16) (aged 7)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Cause of death Gunshot
Resting place Trinity Cemetery
Wayne County, Michigan
Nationality American
Other names Aiyana Jones
Ethnicity African American
Citizenship United States
Known for Murder Victim
Parents Charles Jones (father)

Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley Jones (July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010), was a seven-year-old girl from the East Side of Detroit, Michigan who was shot and killed during a raid conducted by the Detroit Police Department's Special Response Team on May 16, 2010.[1] Her death drew national media attention[2] and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident.[3]

Context

On Friday, May 14, 2010, a teenage boy named Jerean Blake was shot and killed near the intersection of Mack and Beniteau on Detroit's east side. By Saturday night, police had identified Chauncey Owens as a suspect in the shooting and obtained a warrant to search 4054 Lillibridge St, where he was believed to be hiding.[4]

Death

Police officers, bystanders, and residents of the home disagree about several aspects of the raid.[1]

According to press reports, police were on the scene by 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, May 16, 2010. In an attempt to distract the occupants, police fired a flash grenade through the front window of the bottom floor, where Aiyana and her grandmother Mertilla Jones slept. As police entered the front door, Officer Joseph Weekley fired a shot and struck Aiyana in the head or neck area. Police escorted Aiyana to St. John Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.[5][6]

The police officer responsible for the shooting, Joe "Brain" Weekley, is a member of Detroit's SWAT team and was a frequent subject on A&E, whose film crews were also filming the investigation for the documentary TV series The First 48.[7]

Aftermath

After the shot was fired, Weekley reported to his sergeant that a woman inside had grabbed for his gun. Police arrested Mertilla Jones, administered tests for drugs and gunpowder, and released her Sunday morning.[8] Mertilla said that she reached for Aiyana but had no contact with officers.[1]

Chauncey Owens, who is engaged to be married to Aiyana's aunt,[9] was found in the upper floor of the duplex and surrendered without incident.[1] Three days later, he was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Jerean Blake. Aiyana's father was also held in conspiracy of the murder of Jerean Blake and is believed to be the person who provided the gun that killed Blake.[4]

In a last-minute plea bargain, Chauncey Owens admitted to killing 17-year-old Je'Rean Blake and agreed to testify that Charles Jones (Aiyana's father) gave him the gun he used to shoot the teen for giving him a dirty look. In a voice so soft that Wayne County Circuit Judge Richard Skutt had him repeat his statement, Owens said he got the gun "from C.J. ... Charles Jones." Jones had been placed in the truck with Owens before, but Owens' admission was the first time anyone said on the record that he was more than a passive observer. Michigan law says that anyone who "procures, counsels, aids or abets" in the commission of a crime may be tried and convicted as if he or she had directly committed the offense. The plea to second-degree murder calls for Owens to serve 28 years for the killing and an additional two years for using a gun in the commission of a felony, in exchange for his testimony about who gave him the gun.[10]

Channel 4 News in Detroit has learned that Aiyana Jones' father, Charles Jones, who was also questioned in connection with Blake's death and had been placed at the scene of the crime, according to police, was involved in an altercation in Harper Woods Tuesday evening. Three teenagers filed police reports against Charles Jones, claiming that he waved a weapon at them and threatened them at Eastland Mall Tuesday. The teens said Charles Jones approached them because they were wearing T-shirts remembering Blake. The teens told police that Charles Jones made crude remarks and revealed that he was carrying a weapon. Both Owens and Charles Jones have extensive criminal pasts. In 1995, Owens was charged with breaking and entering and faced charges for escaping from prison. In 2005, he was charged with unlawfully driving an automobile. Jones was charged in 2001 with two counts of unarmed robbery. In 2004, Jones was charged with fleeing and eluding police while driving a stolen vehicle. The charges were later dropped. Jones never actually spent time in jail, and instead cut a deal with prosecutors and was placed on probation.[11]

After a one year internal and federal investigation, on October 4, 2011, a grand jury indicted Officer Joseph Weekley on involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. His trial is scheduled for October.[12] Allison Howard, a producer with A&E who was also present at the raid, was indicted on obstruction of justice and perjury for allegedly showing a recording of the raid to a "third party".[13] Federal prosecutors say that Howard had provided false testimony to investigators about the shooting and that Weekley's action were reckless and he had lied to the police in an effort to blame Jones's family for her death.

Funeral

Her funeral was held in the Second Ebenezer Church on May 22, 2010 in Detroit. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy. The casket was white and was afterwards driven to the grave by horse-drawn carriage.[14] She was buried on the grounds.[15]

Controversy

Video of incident

Geoffrey Fieger filed lawsuits on behalf of Aiyana's family.[16] Fieger claims that footage from an undisclosed source shows that the lethal bullet came from outside the home, rather than inside, as police said.[17] A spokesman for city police demanded that Fieger share the tape's contents with Michigan State Police investigators. Fieger said he is not in possession of the tape but that he hoped to release it to the news media.[18] After filing the wrongful death suit against the city, Fieger requested the video from the A&E Network. To this day, A&E refuses to provide the video to Fieger and the police for their respective investigations.

The tape was allegedly made by the A&E reality show The First 48, which was following Detroit police at the time and had featured Detroit officers, including Weekley, in past episodes.[19]

Alleged Intimidation of Aiyana Jones' Family

One report has emerged of a police raid on Aiyana Jones' family's new home. Family members say they were attacked in their home by plainclothes officers, and that officers used racist and sexist slurs against them. They also claim that police regularly shine lights into their home during the night.[20]

The family believes that the officers involved were' from Detroit's gang squad in the seventh precinct.

Connection to 2007 raid

Officer Joseph Weekley, a 14-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, is one of several officers targeted in a federal lawsuit alleging that they shot two dogs and pointed a gun at children during a 2007 raid of a Detroit house. A hearing in U.S. District Court, scheduled for June 9, will decide whether the case goes to trial. The lawsuit, which was moved from the Wayne Circuit Court to the U.S. District Court in April 2009, accuses Weekley and other members of the Special Response Team of entering a Detroit house on Feb. 8, 2007, shooting two dogs, and then pointing a gun at an unspecified number of children, including an infant. The officers were looking for Marlon Westbrook, who later was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison.[21]

Popular Media

On September 18, 2013, J. Cole published a music video to his song "Crooked Smile" featuring TLC on Youtube. Cole used the video as a platform to advocate for people to reconsider the War on Drugs and dedicated the production to Aiyana Stanley-Jones.[22]

One-year anniversary aerial protest

The Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee (JAJC) arranged for an aerial banner to fly from the home where Aiyana Jones was killed to downtown Detroit. It began at 1:00 p.m. Monday, May 16, 2011. The banner, pulled by a small plane read "Justice for Aiyana Jones."

JAJC spokesperson, Roland Lawrence aka Fige Bornu said,

"It has been a complete year since little Aiyana was snatched from life as a result of a reckless and/or intentional act by the Detroit Police Department. To add fire to her demise, local, state and federal authorities have literally ignored the gross and ghastly inhumane actions of the Detroit Police Department that took place in the wee hours of the morning when Aiyana's push to death was scripted and videotaped by the A & E cable program, The Next 48 Hours. We are demanding that the Detroit Police Department and A & E be criminally charged with the death of Aiyana Jones, and that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit City Council acknowledge that the Detroit Police Department acted in total disregard when they actively participated in the killing of Aiyana Jones." [23]

Activists from several cities across the U.S. and world worked with JAJC to organize the event.

See also

  • List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States

References

External links

  • Joe "Brain" Weekley's webpage at A&E: Meet the SWAT Teams
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Internet Movie Database
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