DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit grandmother testified Monday that she could only watch in terror as masked police officers with guns drawn stormed her home in a hunt for a murder suspect that led to the fatal shooting of her 7-year-old granddaughter.
Officer Joseph Weekley is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the May 2010 death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was asleep on a couch when police raided the house.
Aiyana’s grandmother, 50-year-old Mertilla Jones, said after a flash-bang grenade exploded through a window she rolled onto the floor and was lying on her stomach facing the door when Detroit special response team members forced their way inside.
“As soon as they came in, their guns were just pointing right there, and he pulled the trigger,” Mertilla Jones said of Weekley. “I seen the light leave out of her eyes and the blood started gushing out her mouth and she was dead.”
There is no argument that an unintentional shot from Weekley’s gun killed Aiyana after police tossed the stun grenade and burst into the home. Weekley has said his gun accidentally fired when Jones bumped into him or grabbed it. Prosecutors say he was negligent in failing to control his weapon.
Jones said there were only seconds between the police entering the house and the shot being fired. She said Aiyana’s head was propped against the armrest of the couch as she slept and that Weekley was holding the gun right next to the armrest when his weapon discharged.
“The gun went off and shot her in the head. I started screaming and hollering. … ‘Y’all done killed my grandbaby,’” Jones told the courtroom.
Jones said she didn’t interfere with or touch any of the officers, who were dressed entirely in black, including their masks and combat boots. Police were accompanied by a crew from the reality TV show, “The First 48.”
Last week, a neighbor testified that he tried to tell officers before they raided the home that children were inside. Under cross-examination Monday, Jones said the officers were negligent.
“They knew there were children in there. So why would they come in there like that? They came to kill, and they killed a 7-year-old.”
Larry Davis, the officer who tossed the stun grenade, said it is used during raids to create a diversion. Davis also testified the team was unaware children were inside.
When asked by prosecutors if knowing children were in the house would have forced police to change raid tactics, Davis responded: “Probably not.”
Weekley, who carried a shield and MP5 submachine gun, was the assigned point man — or first man into the house as the grenade went off.
Davis testified Weekley told him after the shooting that someone grabbed his weapon.
“I told him things would be OK. That’s about it,” Davis said.
The special response team and homicide investigators were searching for Chauncey Owens, who was a suspect in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Je’rean Blake two days earlier outside a neighborhood convenience store.
Mertilla Jones testified that Owens lived in the upper unit with her daughter, LaKrystal Sanders. Police found Owens in the upstairs flat and he was arrested.