The Herald Bulletin

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June 18, 2013

Jury can't reach verdict in Detroit cop's trial

DETROIT, Mich. —  A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday after jurors failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a Detroit police officer who fatally shot a 7-year-old girl during a chaotic search for a murder suspect that was recorded by a reality TV crew.

Loud voices could be heard in the jury room a few hours before jurors threw in the towel and were dismissed. They sent three notes, the last one indicating they still couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on the third day of deliberations, despite encouragement from Wayne County Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.

Joseph Weekley, a member of an elite police squad, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

He was accused of being "grossly negligent" in how he handled his submachine gun as his black-clad, masked and armed unit stormed the Detroit home to capture a suspect in May 2010. Police threw a stun grenade through a window, and Weekley was the first officer through the door.

He told jurors that he accidentally pulled the trigger during a struggle with the girl's grandmother, but Mertilla Jones denied interfering with the gun. Weekley was not charged with intentionally shooting Aiyana.

The hunt for a murder suspect was being recorded by a crew from "The First 48," a police show on A&E Networks. Some video shot from the sidewalk was part of the evidence.

The jury could have convicted Weekley of involuntary manslaughter, a felony, or reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor. He also could have been cleared of all charges.

"This is a bittersweet outcome: Bitter because Weekley was not convicted, and sweet in that justice for Aiyana Jones will come soon," said Roland Lawrence, leader of a group called Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee, which pressed for charges.

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