A Detroit cop is facing reduced charges after fatally shooting 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones while searching a house.
As of Friday morning, Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the felony charges for involuntary manslaughter against officer Joseph Weekley, the Detroit Free Press reports. Instead, he’s now up on misdemeanor charges of for carelessly firing his gun.
The charges stem from a May 2010 incident, where Aiyana was stuck by a bullet while Joseph was searching for a murder suspect.
Now that the case has been adjourned in the circuit court, an appellate court announced its plans to review the case. Joseph’s attorney, Steve Fisherman, pushed for the appellate court to uphold Cynthia’s decision, arguing, “The United States Supreme Court has clearly stated that the trial judge’s ruling cannot be appealed and that retrial on that count is prohibited by the Double Jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution.”
Prosecutors are fighting back by stating that the circuit court judge’s decision is not final because it was made while the case was stayed, which means it had been paused. “The people are asking this court to either grant leave to appeal, or reverse Judge Hathaway’s order,” they said in a filing, “and order that the charge of involuntary manslaughter be reinstated.”
The dismissal of the charges seems to have hinged on the fact that prosecutors had to prove that Jopseh killed Aiyana due to his gross negligence by “willfully disregarding the results to others that might follow from an act or failure to act.” By using the word “willfully,” Steve said that it must also be proven that Joseph created danger in the search and intended to harm Aiyana.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran countered by saying he never claimed that Joseph intended hurt the little girl. This resulted in unclear jury instruction. Ultimately, Cathy decided that willful negligence could not be proven. “I don’t see the evidence that the defendant willfully disregarded the results to others,” she said before dismissing the felony charges. “The entire trial has basically been about the carelessness of the defendant based on his skills.”
This is not the final word in the case just yet because it is possible that an appeals court could overturn her decision and reinstate Joseph’s felony charges.
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