“Don’t ever doubt we are still in this struggle for Aiyana Monay Stanley-Jones”—grandmother Mertilla Jones
“So much wickedness against Jones family it is ungodly”–friend
Jessie Hernandez, Denver: “Officers came up to the car from behind, fired four times into the driver’s side window” – witness in car
Kristiana Coignard, Longview, TX: “They (3 cops) are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.” — aunt
DETROIT – In an atmosphere figuratively still smoking with tear gas from national rebellions against the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury verdicts, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has dismissed the only charge remaining against Detroit killer cop Joseph Weekley, Jr. Weekley shot seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones to death with an MP5 submachine gun on May 16, 2010 during a horrific SWAT-style raid on her home.
The announcement comes the same week as two 17-year-old girls, Jessica Hernandez and Kristiana Coignard, were literally slaughtered by Denver and Dallas police in circumstances condemned by witnesses and family and community members.
“Please continue to pray and hold our families up in prayer,” Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones said on Facebook. She was sleeping on a front-room couch with Aiyana when Weekley blew the child’s head apart.
“When I say our families I mean the Jones and Stanley families; don’t ever doubt we are still in this struggle for justice for Aiyana Monay Stanley-Jones,” Mrs. Jones continued. “But I speak for Mertilla Jones when I make certain statements. As my future daughter-in-law Dominika Jones has shown the City of Detroit and the rest of the world, she has a voice and she will be heard. I am so very proud of her. And to Prosecutor Moran [and] Officer Weak Assly y’all have got the battle but there is yet a war and when you meet your maker I don’t know if that’s going to be heaven or hell.”
Cornell Squires, a member of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, told VOD, “There is no justice in our court system, it is all corrupt. There has been so much wickedness brought against the Jones family it is ungodly. But God sees everything and he is going to do justice in good time.”
In a statement, Worthy said, “Today we personally informed the family of Aiyana Stanley–Jones that we have made a decision that we would not be going to trial for a third time in the Joseph Weekley case. It is unfortunate that Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway granted a directed verdict dismissing the felony Manslaughter charged, leaving only the misdemeanor count of Careless Discharge Causing Injury or Death. Under the law her decision cannot be appealed. On Friday, January 30, 2015 at 9:00 a.m., we will move to dismiss the case.”
There was no explanation of why Worthy dismissed the charge of careless discharge of a firearm. During both of Weekley’s trials, which each ended in hung juries, extensive evidence was presented that his gun could NOT be fired accidentally, and that officers are trained to keep their fingers off the trigger under any circumstances. A confidential source who knows Weekley told VOD recently that his gun safety latch was not engaged.
VOD predicted this dismissal in earlier stories, based on confidential statements from an individual close to the prosecutor’s office. He wrote last February that the planned scenario was to dismiss the felony charge and get Weekley to plead to the misdemeanor, with Weekley serving no time. He added that many members of the prosecutor’s office were upset at the handling of the case.
Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, communications director for Worthy’s office denied this was the case.
“As Prosecutor Worthy noted in her statement we were very disappointed that Judge Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charge. She didn’t do so in the first jury trial and she heard the same evidence in the second jury trial so it was not in any way expected. As Prosecutor Worthy stated we believe she [Judge Hathaway] did not look at the facts properly and did not follow the law. The standard is that the judge must look at the facts that are most favorable to the prosecution when ruling.”
In fact, Worthy did appeal the dismissal of the felony charge, but an appeals court headed by notoriously right-wing, racist Judge Michael Talbot confirmed Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray-Hathaway’s ruling.
Gus Burns, writing for Mlive.com, noted in an article titled Appeals Court Upholds Shocking Ruling in Aiyana Jones Manslaughter Case, “What made Hathaway’s decision so surprising is that she’d heard Weekley’s attorney, Steven Fishman, make the same motion during the officer’s first trial in 2013 — it ended with a mistrial because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision — yet ruled in an opposite way. Fishman’s motion is one made almost customarily by defense attorneys after the prosecution ends it cases. They’re almost just as customarily rejected.”
Miller said, “Under the law a directed verdict cannot be appealed. Even though we knew that this is the law but we thought we had a very narrow opening because of the fact that the judge heard the evidence in the first trial and did not grant a directed verdict and the fact that she granted the dismissal in the second case with the same evidence should be considered by the court. Once we had a ruling we did not think that the higher court was going to rule differently.”
Video above shows earlier view of raid on Jones’ home. Man lying prostate on street with cop’s foot in his back is Aiyana’s cousin, who cried out to raid team that there were children in the home before they entered and killed Aiyana. Her two toddler brothers, with their parents, were also present.
Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran prosecuted both Weekley and Aiyana’s father Charles Jones in what Jones’ attorney called a clear conflict of interest. Jones was in the home when his daughter was killed, with Dominika and their two toddlers. He was forced by police to crawl through broken glass, blood and bits of her brain during the raid, to sit for hours on the couch where she died, along with Dominika, both not being told their child was dead.
Jones is now serving a 40-60 year sentence on first-degree murder charges based almost exclusively on statements from jail-house snitches, which an appeals court allowed into evidence. Charges were not brought until 17 months after the killing of Jerean Blake, 17, the case in which he was charged. When Jones was arrested, police charged into his home with weapons drawn again, despite the presence of his young sons.
Aiyana’s mother Dominika Jones has said before that she wants an end to the mockery of two previous trials against Weekley, due to the trauma she has suffered attending and testifying at them.
She wrote on Facebook that she talked with Charles Jones after the announcement.
“Just got off the phone with my love so not a good day for me but I am going to make the best of it and always hearing his voice make it better even tho the situation we both going thru gets the best of us,” she said.
Dominika’s Facebook page is filled with photos of their family, the tale of a love that will never die. An attorney with the law offices of Geoffrey Fieger has filed an appeal of Charles Jones’ conviction. He is being held at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, Michigan, with a Security Level II classification, the second lowest.
Some community advocates have said they will file an appeal with the U.S. Department of Justice. However, the USDOJ just told Fox 2 News that they will not file charges in the case of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, shot to death 8 times by Ferguson, MO cop Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, sparking uprisings in Ferguson and St. Louis as well as protests across the country.
(VOD editor: this reporter has covered the Aiyana Jones case since the morning she was killed, in hundreds of stories. Put “Aiyana” in VOD search engine to see entire background of case.)
Jessica Hernandez, 17: Friend disputes Denver police account of teen death
Sadie Gurman, Associated Press
January 28, 2015
Denver — A passenger who was in a car when a 17-year-old girl was shot and killed by Denver police has disputed authorities’ account of her death, saying officers opened fire before one of them was struck by the vehicle.
The passenger, speaking late Tuesday to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, said her friend, Jessica Hernandez, lost control of the vehicle because she was unconscious after being shot.
Police have said the Monday morning shooting in a residential alley came after Hernandez drove a stolen vehicle into one of them.
Prosecutors on Tuesday promised a thorough probe of the shooting as a small group of angry protesters demanded swift answers and called for a special prosecutor to investigate the death.
The shooting occurred amid a national debate about police use of force fueled by racially charged episodes in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.
It was also the fourth time in seven months that a Denver police officer fired into a moving vehicle after perceiving it as a threat, and the city’s independent police monitor now says he will investigate the department’s policies and practices related to shooting at moving vehicles, which he said poses unique safety risks.
Police spokesman Sonny Jackson offered no new details about the case on Tuesday, citing the department’s open investigation.
The shooting happened after an officer was called to check on a suspicious vehicle, Chief Robert White has said. A colleague arrived after the officer determined the car had been reported stolen. Police have said the two officers approached the car on foot when Hernandez drove into one of them, and they both then opened fire.
The car’s passenger said police had surrounded the car in the alley, and Hernandez was trying to flee, attempting to drive around one of the squad cars.
The officers came up to the car from behind and fired four times into the driver’s side window, narrowly missing others inside, the passenger said.
Hernandez wrecked the car into a fence after she was shot, according to the witness. Police said the officer suffered a leg injury for which he was treated at a hospital and released.
Officers with their guns drawn then pulled people out of the car, including Hernandez, who they handcuffed and searched. (VOD: Hernandez had already been killed.)
The passenger was unaware the vehicle was stolen and provided only vague details about what the group of teenagers was doing earlier in the night.
By law, police are allowed to use force to stop and overcome the resistance of another person. They can use it to match the force and overcome it.
Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on routine administrative leave pending the investigation.
VOD: They have now been identified by Denver police as Daniel Greene, a 16-year veteran, and Gabriel Jordan, a 9-year veteran, both assigned as Patrol Officers in District 2.
Three cops, a 17-year-old and ‘a cry for help': why did Kristiana Coignard die?
By Tom Dart
January 28, 2015
Houston, Texas –Just after sunset last Thursday, 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard entered a police station in Longview, Texas, a small city two hours east of Dallas with a history of police violence not all that different from the rest of the United States – but no less mysterious.
Coignard picked up a red, wall-mounted phone in the police department lobby and asked to speak with an officer – for reasons that also remain unclear.
The teenager may have been “wielding a knife”, according to the mayor. Police say “they were confronted by a white female who threatened them” – after which she brandished some sort of weapon, “made threatening movements toward the officers and was shot”. Motives on either side are still relatively unknown.
What is clear, nearly a week later in Texas and six months after police killings and community relations starting coming under renewed scrutiny across the US, is that another teenager has died after being shot “multiple times” by local cops. Three officers are on paid leave, the Longview police told the Guardian. A preliminary autopsy report has ruled the death a homicide.
And in the case of Kristiana Coignard, as in what advocates and sheriffs agree constitute more than half of US police killings each year, the victim appears to have had mental health problems.
Call it “justifiable homicide”: FBI statistics counted 461 encounters between police and those they killed with the threat of violence in 2013. Some have dubbed it “suicide-by-cop”, as about one-third of such cases can be classified – in addition to undoubtedly many more undercounted deaths. The hacktivist collective Anonymous prefers “trained to kill”.
Whatever you call the overlapping patterns of police violence and brief encounters with young and possibly unstable citizens, mental health advocates insist the United States is “not keeping track”.
“We’ve deputised America’s police to be mental health workers,” Doris A Fuller, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, told the Guardian. “We’re asking cops to make a split-second decision about whether someone is actually a threat to them.”
On a Facebook page for the Longview police, a user claiming to be Coignard’s uncle wrote that “for quite a few years my niece suffered from mental illness”.
The teenager was taking medication, seeing a therapist and living with her aunt, Heather Robertson, according to an interview with Robertson at ThinkProgress. She told the website that Coignard had struggled with depression and bipolar disorder since her mother’s death when she was four years old. Robertson said her niece had been “only violent with herself”.
“I think it was a cry for help,” Robertson said of the incident in the police department lobby. “I think they could have done something. They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.”
There is video of the killing, Coignard’s aunt said the police told her.
A Longview police spokesperson, Kristie Brian, told the Guardian there are currently no plans to make footage available to the public. She declined to confirm the type of weapon Coignard allegedly brandished but said the department expects to release more details about the shooting later this week. The Texas Ranger Division is investigating the incident.
Brian said Longview officers “are trained in all kinds of different situations”, including dealing with people with mental health problems, and that the county has a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), which sees specially trained officers dispatched to urgent psychiatric situations. She said she did not know whether the three officers currently on leave had been CIT-trained.
Coignard is the third person – and the third young person – shot dead by Longview police in less than a year. No charges were filed by a grand jury against three officers who killed a 15-year-old robbery suspect during a shootout last March. A 23-year-old cook with a history of making threats died in August after a routine traffic stop went awry. Continue reading