AFRICANGLOBE – A judge won’t delay the trial of a Detroit police officer who killed a 7-year-old girl during a raid, despite claims by his attorney that a “media frenzy” following a police shooting in Missouri could harm his right to an impartial jury.
Defense lawyer Steven Fishman said police in general have been vilified in news coverage of the fatal shooting of a Black man by a White officer in Ferguson, Missouri. He fears it could rub off on the jury in the trial of Detroit Officer Joseph Weekley, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter.
But Wayne County Judge Cynthia Hathaway said the trial will start Monday as planned. She turned down a request last week to postpone it until next year.
There is no dispute that Weekley killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones while she slept on a couch during a search for a murder suspect in 2010. But he claims the shooting happened when the girl’s grandmother grabbed his gun in the chaotic moments following the use of a stun grenade. Mertilla Jones denies any interference.
This is Weekley’s second trial. The first ended without a verdict in June 2013.
In a court filing, Fishman said references to Aiyana’s death have popped up in local news stories about the Ferguson shooting and the use of military gear by police departments.
Fishman referred to a case from the 1990s in which a higher court said “inflammatory publicity,” among other factors, could spoil a jury pool.
In Weekley’s case, “all of those factors are present, particularly the media frenzy that has occurred since the incident in Ferguson,” Fishman wrote.
Prosecutors didn’t oppose or support a delay in the trial.
Moments before Aiyana Jones was killed, police threw a stun grenade through a window, emitting smoke, bright light and vibrations to confuse people inside. The raid was recorded for a police reality TV show, “The First 48,” and some video was used at the first trial.
By: Ed White