Grandmother of girl killed by Detroit police said they 'came to kill'

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2014 3:02 PM

By Aaron Foley

DETROIT (Reuters) - The grandmother of a 7-year-old girl killed by a Detroit police officer testified at his manslaughter trial on Tuesday that she doesn't feel she can trust the police.

"They came to kill in my house," Mertilla Jones, the grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, said during the trial of Officer Joseph Weekley.

Weekley is accused of involuntary manslaughter and negligent use of a firearm for Aiyana's death during a police raid in 2010, in a case that has sparked concerns about police use of force.

Weekley is on trial for a second time - a jury last year failed to reach a verdict.

Jones had been on a couch with Aiyana when police burst into the home looking for a murder suspect. She became so emotional during testimony last week that the trial was halted, and Jones was admonished by the judge on Tuesday to stay calm.

Weekley's defense has been that his gun went off when Jones grabbed it, but Jones said she didn't touch it.

On the day of the shooting, Weekley was part of a special response team that raided the Jones home in search of Chauncey Owens, a suspect in the killing of a teenage boy.

Owens was later found hiding in the building where Aiyana lives, and her father, Charles Jones, was convicted of providing Owens with the murder weapon.

Under cross-examination, Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, brought up that Mertilla Jones has another son, Norbert Jones, in prison for murder. Jones said she believes Norbert was innocent, and that she blames the police for mishandling both her sons' cases.

Aiyana's shooting stirred protests and tension in Detroit over concerns about police brutality and use of excessive force.

Police conduct has been under national scrutiny since a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9, sparking a wave of protests.

The Detroit Police Department has been monitored by federal authorities for excessive force issues for more than a decade. It began emerging from the oversight last month.

(Reporting by Aaron Foley; Editing by Mary Wisniewski)