Authorities will not release name or set time for further review
By Diane Bukowski
DETROIT, March 5 – According to the office of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Michigan State Police have announced that their investigation into the death of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones last May is now complete. The child was shot to death by Detroit police during a military style raid on her home that was being filmed for the national TV show “48 Hours.”
Prosecutor Worthy’s office said the State Police forwarded a request for a warrant for one male to them, but refused to release the individual’s name. It was unclear if the warrant is for the police officer who is being sued for the shooting, Joseph Weekley, or any other individual connected to the case.
“We cannot give an exact date when our review will be completed,” Maria Miller, Worthy’s communications chief, said Mar. 3. “The warrant package that we received yesterday is the result of a nine-month investigation by the Michigan State Police which contains hundreds of pages of reports and a great deal of evidence. It is important that we take the time that is necessary to thoroughly and carefully review [the] matter. When the process is completed a decision will be announced.”
Ms. Worthy’s office normally investigates all police-related shootings in the county, but she declined to investigate the Aiyana Jones killing and turned it over to the State Police. It is unclear why her office now needs further review. Ms. Worthy has not prosecuted a single Detroit police officer for killing anyone since she first became famous in 1992, when she prosecuted Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn for the beating death of Malice Green.
Mohamed Okdie, who was chair of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners at the time of the Aiyana Jones killing, said then that he did not believe Ms. Worthy would bring charges.
He also castigated Detroit Mayor Dave Bing for his actions in the case. Mr. Bing barred further coverage of Detroit police activities by reality shows, but then endorsed the filming in the city of the fictional cop series “Detroit 1-8-7.”
“I instigated a call for an independent citizens’ committee to determine whether police procedures were properly followed,” Mr. Okdie said. “Two days after Aiyana was killed, I told Mayor Bing he needed to make a statement and consult with community groups. I said I would help get the groups together. But his response was, ‘It doesn’t matter, people are going to complain anyway.’”
Family members were contacted but said they had been advised by their attorney Geoffrey Fieger to obtain his approval before commenting further on the recent development, subsequent to a press conference held without his knowledge.
“Aiyana Jones has become our child martyr because she was quietly sleeping when the police ruthlessly invaded her space and killed her,” said Roland Lawrence, chair of the Detroit-based Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee “The Detroit Police should create an entity within itself called the Aiyana Jones Public Service Unit (AJPSU) that will oversee its daily operations with the goal of making sure that all Detroit citizens and others regardless of race, income, social status, etc. are afforded a fair, safe and transparent interaction as it pertains to police business.”
Mr. Jones had previously announced that his organization was planning a memorial protest on the first-year anniversary of the child’s death, May 16 of this year.
The horrific raid on the Jones’ family home, located in a poor east-side Detroit neighborhood, and the death of Aiyana, who was shot once in the head, drew world-wide outrage.
In a search for an alleged suspect in a previous killing, a military-style “Special Response Team” threw an incendiary grenade through the front window of the family’s living room. The child and her grandmother Mertilla Jones, 46, were sleeping on a couch directly below the window.
An officer identified by Fieger as Joseph Weekley, who is a resident of the wealthy predominantly white suburb of Grosse Pointe Park, shot Aiyana through the top of her head from the doorway of the home, according to a reconstruction done by Fieger’s investigators.
“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones said afterwards. “I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth. I had never seen anything like that before: my beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”
Charles Jones, the child’s father, said the morning after the raid, “It hurts so bad. I just lost my baby, she was so beautiful. She was an honor roll student and very artistic. She loved her family and friends and was very popular in school with her classmates.”
The depth of the family’s ongoing grief was apparent from newsreel footage of the press conference May 4, which showed that the child’s grandmother had lost a significant amount of weight. Mr. Lawrence said she told him she has not been able to sleep or eat properly since her granddaughter’s killing.
Detroit police arrested Ms. Jones immediately after the invasion and held her for 48 hours, claiming she had tried to interfere with a police officer, but then released her without charges.
Fieger has filed two civil lawsuits on behalf of the family in the case, one against Officer Weekley and an unidentified officer, and one against “48 Hours” and its sponsoring network, A&E.
A&E Television Network (AETN), raked in $1.05 billion in revenue in 2005, according to Advertising Age, an industry publication, AETN is jointly owned by NBC Enterprises, which made $12.44 billion, Disney, which made $17.14 billion, and Hearst Enterprises.
Roland Lawrence said the Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee is still planning its May 16 anniversary protest of her killing. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.