Dawsey: What's Taking So Long In Prosecuting Death of Aiyana Stanley?
It's been more than two years since 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was allegedly shot to death by a Detroit police officer during a raid on her home, and those close to the case are wondering exactly why the wheels of justice are moving like rusty cogs…if at all.
A judge is not likely to rule until 2013 on a motion to dismiss manslaughter and firearms charges against Officer Joseph Weekley. And so Mertilla Jones, the slain child's grandmother, asks with rightful frustration why the case against Weekley has limped along so.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Jones said she worries people in Detroit are beginning to forget about her granddaughter. She also questioned the prosecution.
"Why's he not locked up?" she said of Weekley. "Because he's the law? He's not above the law."
In the years since Aiyana's death, her case has gone from a national tragedy to a political football rotten with the stench of coverup. To the Jones family, it's simply intentional foot dragging. Even as her grandmother worries about the child fading from our collective memories, local media are again picking up on the story as the case haltingly works its way through court.
In a look at the case by Voice of Detroit, Jones explains how it has impacted her family the past two years, and decries what she sees as an inherent unfairness in how the case has unfolded.
Although he was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm a year ago, Weekley has yet to face trial. It has become apparent during a series of pre-trial hearings that the court, prosecution and defense want the child’s father Charles Jones tried on first-degree murder charges in a separate case first.
“Her daddy can’t even grieve with his family for his daughter, because he has been locked up for a year while Weekley is free with his family,” Jones added. “I have lost two sisters waiting for justice. One of them was in the room with me when my grandbaby was shot, and both just gave up hope on living after that.”
Weekley has been free on personal bond while Aiyana’s father and her aunt’s fiancé Chauncey Owens are in jail awaiting trial. They are accused in the killing of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake two days before Aiyana’s death. Detroit police used that incident as a pretext to stage a midnight raid with grenades, tanks, and assault weapons on the Jones’ home, while cameras for A & E’s “The First 48” rolled.
Given what police and prosecutors say is his role in the death of an innocent 17-year-old boy, Charles Jones certainly isn't going to invite anybody's sympathy. If he's guilty, the man needs to be locked away the same as anyone else who murders kids. Je'Rean Blake's life was just as valuable as his daughter's, Blake's death, just as tragic.
But there would be nothing more cynical and fucked-up than to convict Jones and use that conviction to somehow justify Weekely's actions or soften his punishment. Whatever Charles Jones' role in the death of young Je'Rean Blake, whoever shot and killed Aiyana in that raid, needs to be held fully responsible.
You don't get to chalk up the brutal shooting death of a 7-year-old girl to her daddy's shitty karma.
Of course, this case has stunk throughout with, at best, incompetence and, at worst, outright lying and willful attempts to cover up what really happened in the killing of a child.
In the hours immediately after Aiyana's death, for instance, the police actually tried to blame the grandmother, claiming that she interfered with officers and caused the gun to go off.
Even after they backed off that bullshit, there was the photographer from "The First 48" lying under oath about the video she'd taken.
And then there's the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office screwing up the early autopsy report.
And now there's the interminable foot dragging and paper shuffling over at the courthouse. Be it for Je'Rean or Aiyana, nobody's been exactly sprinting toward truth and justice in all of this. (In contrast, consider that two weeks before Aiyana was shot, Detroit Officer Brian Huff was gunned down in a drug house on the city's eastside, in another of that year's high-profile slayings. Huff's killer, 26-year-old Jason Gibson, was sentenced in May 2011 to life in prison.)
Had Aiyana been shot to death by some hoodlum robbing her home, this case would have been resolved long ago.
But she was shot by a cop, and cops get held to a different standard than the rest of us. And cops also carry with them a different type of liability, one that a city already wracked by lawsuits would surely like to avoid.
As a result, we get false blame and erroneous police reports, half-ass coroner's exams and pointless delays.
Nobody's saying railroad Weekley in some blind rush to judgement. But after two damn years, it's only fair for Jones and others to wonder just what's taking so long for the case to get moving. Weekley, after all, may or may not be guilty.
But let's never forget that Aiyana Stanley-Jones was absolutely innocent.