Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jun 2013
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2013 Detroit Free Press


A Detroit police officer is accused of felony involuntary manslaughter
and gross negligence in the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Aiyana

In testimony Wednesday, Sgt. Anthony Potts recalled being outside
Aiyana Stanley-Jones's the home watching the upstairs balcony as
members of the Special Response Team raided the two-unit dwelling
looking for a homicide suspect on May 16, 2010.

A flash-bang grenade went off, and later, he heard a "pop" and
suspected the entry team had shot a dog inside the home with an MP5
submachine gun, Potts said.

Then a woman screamed, and shortly afterward, he discovered that
Aiyana was shot.

"One of my officers was holding a little girl in his arms," he said in
the trial of an officer accused of gross negligence in connection with
Aiyana's death.

Potts said, "Let's go, let's go," and immediately left the home with
an officer, who was carrying the girl. They rushed her to St. John
Hospital and Medical Center, where a trauma team was waiting, but
Aiyana did not survive.

Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley has been charged with felony
involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing

Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, doesn't dispute the bullet came
from his client's gun but said the girl died in a tragic accident.

Detroit police Sgt. Anthony Potts gets emotional while answering
questions about the night he and his team raided a home in 2010 that
resulted in the shooting death of 7-year-old Aiyana
Stanley-Jones.(Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)
Potts was one of several people who told jurors in Wayne County Circuit
Court on Wednesday how the raid unfolded. It came a day after jurors
watched dramatic video taken from outside the property a cable TV crew
embedded with police. In that video, the sound of a gunshot can be heard
about three seconds after the diversionary device exploded.

Mark Robinson testified that he lived at the home of his aunt,
Mertilla Jones, and was outside when police arrived to raid it.

He was told to lie on the sidewalk, Robinson said, but he still could
see the house. Robinson said he saw police run up and yelled to them
that there were kids inside.

He heard glass break, the flash-bang grenade explode, and the gunshot,
which he said came from the porch and was followed by screams.

"Y'all killed my baby," he recalled Jones, who is Aiyana's
grandmother, saying. "Y'all killed Aiyana."

Earlier Wednesday, Sgt. Courtney Anderson, who conducted surveillance
outside the house before the raid, testified he did not see any toys
outside beforehand.

If he had, he would have reported it, he said.

A picture taken with a flash outside the dwelling after the raid
showed there were toys there, indicating there may be children inside,
but it was dark that night.

Anderson said Weekley helped to train him on tactics when he joined
the Special Response Team, teaching him about executing a search
warrant. He said he had a lot of respect for Weekley then and now.

Potts said he has known Weekley for seven to eight years and that the
response team is like family. Fishman asked him what kind of officer
Weekley was. "A damn good one," Potts replied.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran asked him whether he
had a hard time answering some of his questions because he was
testifying against someone he thought of as a family member.

"I haven't had any problems answering your questions," Potts replied.
"You have a hard time expressing exactly what you want."

He was questioned about whether anyone lingered in the area known as
the "fatal funnel," which was the doorway that opened to the front
room, during the raid. Potts said his attention was on the balcony

But the prosecutor brought up earlier grand jury testimony, in which
Potts said there was a hang-up of a few seconds in that area.

"I don't consider lingering a few seconds," Potts said.

Testimony is set to resume Thursday morning in Wayne County Circuit
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway's courtroom.