A Michigan family has agreed to an $8.25 million payout nearly nine years after an officer shot and killed a 7-year-old girl during a police raid which crews filmed for the A&E series “The First 48.”
The Detroit News reported that the city of Detroit and family of Aiyana Stanley-Jones reached a settlement Thursday, days before a civil trial was set to begin.
On May 16, 2010, Detroit police’s Special Response Team raided the family’s apartment while looking for Chauncey Owens in connection with the shooting death of Je’Rean Blake, 17, outside a convenience store days earlier. The Detroit Free Press reported that Stanley-Jones’ father was arrested in an upstairs’ unit and ultimately convicted to giving Owens the gun used to kill Blake.
Leading the raid was officer Joseph Weekley, who claimed Stanley-Jones’ grandmother, Mertilla Jones, slapped his MP-5 sub-machine gun, which caused a single bullet to discharge and fatally wound the 7-year-old, according to The Detroit News.
WDIV reported that Stanley-Jones was sleeping on a couch when she was shot in the head. Jones had denied coming into contact with the gun that killed her granddaughter and testified that the officer had immediately opened fire upon bursting in their home.
“Why you do it..please tell me,” Jones cried on the witness stand before being escorted out of court.
“You killed my grandbaby…you killed her and you’re trying to blame me.”
Film crews with A&E’s “The First 48,” were filming outside at the time of the fatal midnight raid. One of the show’s producers, Allison Howard, was criminally charged with obstruction of justice for lying about providing footage of the fatal raid to the slain girl’s lawyer. Howard was sentenced to two years’ probation and prosecutors dropped perjury charge as part of a settlement.
The family attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, reportedly used the footage to build a case that the fatal bullet came from outside the home—an allegation that directly contradicts Weekley’s claims.
Weekley was tried twice for involuntary manslaughter but both trials ended in a hung jury—leading the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to drop their case against him altogether. Reports indicated that he returned to work in April 2015, two months after prosecutors dismissed the criminal charges against him.
Fieger explained to The Detroit News that the legal battle took almost a decade to resolve due to Detroit’s bankruptcy and related appeals.
“It’s a wound that never heals. [The settlement] won’t provide full justice,” he said Thursday. “The only full justice would be to bring Aiyana back and I can’t do that.”
[Featured image: Aiyana Stanley-Jones/WDIV]