In all of the melee resulting from the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, and the decision to not indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in New York City, the media has overlooked a number of other very important shootings of unarmed civilians by police officers. One of the most egregious offenses is that of Officer Joseph Weekley’s fatal shooting of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Officer Weekley recently saw manslaughter charge dropped against him, for shooting the 7-year-old while she slept.
The Detroit police officer had been on trial for involuntary manslaughter for shooting and killing the young girl during a 2010 police raid.
But early in October, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway granted a motion which Weekley’s attorney had filed, arguing for the dismissal of the felony charge he faced in the young girl’s death.
The trial was brought to an end while the Michigan Court of Appeals reviewed an emergency appeal of the ruling.
Presiding Judge Michael Talbot issued the order to deny the appeal and allow the judge’s dismal to stand.
“Although I find that the trial court erred in form and substance in granting defendant’s motion for directed verdict, we are barred from reviewing that decision,” Talbot wrote.
The shooting happened just after midnight, back on May 16, 2010.
A SWAT team had conducted a raid to search for a murder suspect. Weekly ended up being first through the door.
There was even a film crew on hand to film for a reality show about murder investigations. Weekley says that another SWAT member had thrown a flash-bang grenade, which temporarily blinded him. That’s when he fired the shot that killed Aiyana who was asleep on the couch in the front room of the house.
Doubling down on this claim, in court he actually testified that Aiyana’s grandmother had somehow “touched” his gun, which made him fire the shot. But he failed to explain how he could tell she had done this when he claimed he couldn’t see anything at the time.
The prosecution noted that even having his finger on the trigger of his submachine gun was improper. “He could have avoided injury if he had followed his training,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran explained.
“He didn’t, and as a result of him not following his training and not following the mandates of ordinary care, someone was killed.”
But ultimately, the arguments and reason didn’t win out.
Roland Lawrence, the chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Committee, issued a statement after the court’s decision was announced.
“Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society,” Lawrence said.
Steve Fishman, Weekley’s attorney, claimed that even though he did not dispute that his client pulled the trigger and killed the girl, “there is absolutely no evidence, none, that’s in the least bit credible, that Officer Weekley knowingly created a danger or, more importantly, intended to cause injury.”
After the dismissal, the only charge Weekley faced, was a relatively minor misdemeanor charge of “careless discharge of a firearm causing death.”
In spite of the egregious nature of this incident, the media has paid relatively little attention to Officer Joseph Weekley’s fatal shooting of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Another incident, just as blood-boiling is the death of a 37-year-old African American woman who died after police slammed her head on the concrete, just outside of her family’s home. While our report on Tanisha Anderson’s death was getting out to millions, the mainstream media ignored it when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland shortly thereafter.
Tanisha’s brother explained that Anderson was pronounced dead at Cleveland Clinic after the assault by the Ohio cops. The pronouncement came early Thursday about two hours after the police “take down” caused Anderson to bash her head on the concrete outside of her home.
“They killed my sister,” Joell Anderson, Tanisha’s 40-year-old brother said as he fought back tears. “I watched it.”
Officers came to the house after a call from a family member who thought the police could calm the bi-polar Tanisha down, during an argument.
Police came, responding to the situation as a “disturbing the peace” call. It seemed that everyone agreed Tanisha should undergo an evaluation at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, police sources told us.
But what happened next is described very differently by police and family members.
“As the officers escorted Anderson to the police vehicle, she began actively resisting the officers,” police spokesman Sgt. Ali Pillow claimed to the local Cleveland publication, The Plain Dealer.
Tanisha changed her mind about the evaluation after police slapped cuffs on her. She believed she was within her rights to decide whether she went for a voluntary evaluation. But police, at this point, argued that it was up to them.
“The woman began to kick at officers,” Pillow said. “A short time later the woman stopped struggling and appeared to go limp. Officers found a faint pulse on the victim and immediately called EMS.”
But Tanisha’s brother Joell gives a very different account than what the police claim.
“She was more of a danger to herself than others,” he explained.
Two male officers escorted Tanisha Anderson, who was prescribed medication for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, to the police cruiser. She sat herself in the backseat but became nervous about the confined space and tried to get out, Anderson said.
As Tanisha called out for her brother and mother, an officer used a “Judo” take down move after having pressed her head down repeatedly in the backseat in what seemed to be a “smothering” manner, Joell Anderson said.
Joell says that after she hit her head on the concrete, and the officer placed his knee on her back, she never opened her eyes or spoke another word.
To add insult to injury, Joell says that his sister’s sundress was lifted above her waist, where it remained as officers refused to administer any aid to the unconscious woman. Joell says that he was forced to go over and use his own jacket to cover her naked lower body, because police would not, even when he asked them to.
“She was outgoing, silly, always joking,” Joell said of his sister. “She just wasn’t doing very well that day.”
The Cleveland Police Department tells us that their Division of Police Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is “investigating” the case. No officers involved have been fired, reprimanded, nor placed on leave.
Let’s not let the police get away with these unjust killings of Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Tanisha Anderson. Help us SPREAD THE WORD by sending this article to someone you know who cares about justice and police accountability!
(Article by Jackson Marciana and Moreh B.D.K.; special thanks to The Plain Dealer)