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Published on June 3rd, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman


Detroit police officer on trial in death of girl, 7

Officer Joseph Weekley, charged with involuntary manslaughter, is accused of acting with gross negligence when he didn’t prevent his gun from firing during the chaos that followed the use of a “flash-bang” device.

The loud, smoky device used in the Detroit raid is intended to startle and confuse people as officers swarm a scene. But some critics of the police department’s tactics believe it was used in the fatal raid simply to satisfy a crew from “The First 48,” a show that focuses on the crucial early stages of homicide investigations.

Weekley’s trial could reveal how the TV crew’s presence influenced decisions that May 2010 night.

“This was essentially a military assault on a private dwelling,” said Ron Scott, spokesman for a watchdog group, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. “I think the administration of the police department wanted to show Detroit was tough on crime and show something exciting for television.

Officers hunting for a suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old boy staked out a home that night on Lillibridge Street. Weekley was first through the door when the grenade went off during the midnight raid.

Police have said his gun accidentally discharged after he confronted or collided with Aiyana’s grandmother. A bullet struck and killed Aiyana, one of four children inside.

After that, officials declined to speak publicly about the raid because of a civil lawsuit and investigations that led to charges against Weekley.

Mayor Dave Bing banned reality TV crews from tagging along with police after Aiyana’s death. Evans was forced out as chief two months after the shooting, partly because he was involved in planning a different reality show starring himself.

A&E declined to comment on whether Aiyana’s death led to any changes in how “The First 48” crews do their job. A videographer, Allison Howard, is charged with perjury and withholding video crucial to the investigation. Her trial is set for June 24.

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Source: “Detroit officer on trial in death of girl, 7,” June 3, 2013.

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