Detroit SWAT Officer: Grandmother Made Me Shoot Aiyana

I’ve been predicting that George Zimmerman will walk in the killing of Trayvon Martin and that riots will ensue. It’s all about optics. In the Zimmerman case, you have an almost white man shooting a definitely black man portrayed as an angelic innocent. Meanwhile, in Detroit you have a caucasian cop shooting a seven-year-old black girl during a SWAT raid. And here’s the kicker: Officer Joseph Weekley’s trying to pin the blame on her grandmother . . .

He was the first officer in as police stormed a house to capture a man suspecting of killing a teenager outside a corner store less than 48 hours earlier. A stun grenade was thrown through a window, emitting smoke, bright light and vibrations to confuse people inside.

Weekley said he heard a noise, “like somebody’s out of breath,” from under a pile of laundry and blankets on a couch near the doorway. He said a woman later identified as Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, emerged.

“She hit it in a downward motion,” Weekley said of his submachine gun. “As she hits it down, I start to pull it back. I hear the shot.”

Nonetheless, he said he didn’t even feel a recoil in the weapon and first believed the shot came from elsewhere in the house.

Even if we believe that Mertilla Jones hit Officer Weekley’s machine gun, SWAT teams are supposed to train for close-in weapons retention (a J move with the barrel). You know; without shooting the wrong person. A key part of that training: keep your booger finger off the bang switch.

Whether or not Aiyana’s grandmother recovered from the flash bang quickly enough to launch a counter-attack against armed invaders, clearly Weekley created a negligent discharge. Ipso facto.

It’s not Weekley’s first rodeo. Wikipedia reports that “Officer Joseph Weekley, a 14-year veteran of the DPD, is one of several officers targeted in a federal lawsuit alleging that they shot two dogs and pointed a gun at children during a 2007 raid of a Detroit house.”

But there’s more. The trial revealed that the SWAT team ignored children’s toys in the yard when deciding to go all-in with flash-bangs and full-auto ARs to capture murder Chauncey Owens (who was hiding upstairs). Something to do with the A&E TV crew following them perhaps?

The jury can find Weekley guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a felony; a misdemeanor weapons charge; or not guilty of any crime. No matter what happens it’s bound to be business as usual in Detroit, only without the cameras watching.


  1. avatar Gtfoxy says:

    You touched on something:

    We should not be idolizing & celebritizing law enforcement.

    It leads to a dangerous idea that they are better and infalable, when in reality, they are as corruptable as any one else when fame & notoriety are involved.

  2. avatar Sean Cronin says:

    My brothers and many close friends are DPD. I have heard the stories about this entire case from literally the start of it. One brother was on the initial run from the homicide that started it all. The father, and the aunt’s BF Chauncey Owens murdered a teen age boy that the father thought was looking at him wrong. Also, they were a family of criminals. The reason why the little girl was on the couch in the first place was because her bedroom was filled with stolen goods. The backyard of the house had 3 stolen cars. The families criminal actions started this whole horrible story. Their violent behavior brought violence back to them.

    None of that means that a little girl should have died. The officer, who I have met before, should not have had his damn finger on the trigger.

    While you say ” No matter what happens it’s bound to be business as usual in Detroit”, the DPD are worried as hell this will start a riot. Which an underfunded, seriously understaffed force cannot handle at this point.

    1. avatar Kirk says:

      Well put.

      That being said, I think I’ll skip the factory tour at the idled Volt plant this year.

      1. avatar Sean Cronin says:

        I believe if you take that tour, they make you take a Volt home with you.

    2. avatar Bob4 says:

      In days long ago, the men of a town would be called to action by the local leaders to help defend the town from intruders, crime, and unrest. In today’s world in most areas of the country, the towns men are taught that it is not their place to stand up against intruders, crime, and unrest, that we have to wait for the government to save us. Detroit should be worried about unrest, because it is on its own.

    3. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      I am from Detroit, and my wife still has close family near where this happened. Very much agreed – there will be a riot. Which explains why her family keeps coming down here to visit . . . .

    4. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      Knock on the door and wait for it to be opened and none of this happens.
      The only people bringing violent behavior in this instance were the government thugs.

      Every cop on this entry team deserves a life time prison sentence.

      1. avatar Sean Cronin says:

        But again, these were armed, dangerous people they were arresting. People wanted for murder do not just surrender in most cases. They have nothing to lose. The issue is that this officer couldn’t keep his finger off the trigger. I don’t question the need for the raid. Better planning, perhaps. But these were very bad people. A family of very bad people.

        1. avatar Lars says:

          Armed? First off there were no firearms found in the raided home. Second, the shot that killed the girl was shot immediately upon entry, before the grandmother allegedly “grabbed” for one of the officers firearms. So not only did the girl get struck before the grandmother allegedly tried to grab a firearm from police, not her own, but this all happened after the girl was shot.
          Not only were there children’s toys in the yard but witnesses told the swat team before entry that there were children in that residence. The suspect they were looking for was on an entirely different floor of the duplex and surrendered peacefully.
          Being A&E is still refusing to let either party have the video tape of the killing, we will never fully know what happened but we can assume the police fu*ked it all up. It would take some people in high places to prevent a tv network from releasing or showing footage of the actual incident wouldn’t it? Not something the victim’s family could afford or do.
          I don’t give a sh*t how dangerous a individual in that family was, the police mishandled this raid from the get go and a 14 year veteran, btw with a past history of killing dogs and pointing firearms at children, killed a innocent child. Quit defending, even partially, the actions of the police dept and this officer. A knock on the fricking door would of had a better outcome.
          Maybe I will deem your family bad because of one bad apple, maybe the decision to raid your home will be made on that one factor. Bad family, how about bad police policies and training? And this is coming from a guy, me, who constantly posts that the real gun issue currently is the fact that most gun murders are committed by black males. So I’m no liberal pandering to the plight of the black man, I’m about facts and what’s right and in this case the police are 100% at fault. I hope the lawsuit bankrupts the city even more and that this officers career is over. If you can’t handle the job you shouldn’t be doing the job.

      2. avatar Bobby says:

        Chris Mallory you are a complete idiot. Life sentence for everyone trying to arrest a murdering thug?
        I’ll just go ahead and assume you are on the murdering thug’s side.
        No other reason for you to say that.

    5. avatar Frodo says:

      There are few smart police in the US. If they were smart they would thin the herd of the trash that drags them down and puts them in danger.

      Law Enforcement in the US has forgotten in large part who they work for and who pays them.

    6. avatar jh says:

      While i am all for effective police department doing meaningful enforcement. Do you really think the truth will come out from his fellow officers or will the blue line stonewalling. What really makes me mad is all the police breaking any law they please when they are supposed to be the one to be the model for the law. Don’t worry if you break the law you have a get out of jail for free card and I the tax payer will be paying the price from the lawsuits and your salary and benefits which is just an insult.I also am seeing the us versus them mentality be more common. The only protecting and serving i see the police doing is for themselves and Lying for their buddies How best to work the system when you know the system.
      The police in my area seem to be afraid of everything flies, puppies, you name it and the gun comes out no common sense whatsoever.
      Why would the police expect the citizens to follow every law when the enforcer of the laws break them every day for convience
      The next thing you know they will send SWAT out for traffic stops where will it end. and all in the name of security
      I know it is a thankless job but if you didn’t know that when you signed up you probably shouldn’t be there. I though joining when i got out of the military, but when i saw every A-hole from my school was joining i knew this wasn’t for me.
      I am not anti police but most police departments have changed for the worse Cops versus perp, screw due process. They need to take protect and serve off their cars When the Police are Hiding things that there is a problem. I want to support the police 100% But show me you are worth any support. All we se most of the time are some special force’s wanna be’s shooting dogs, the wrong people and complaining they are feeling threatened
      If you throw a flash bang in my house at 1am in the morning what do you expect cupcakes and milk?
      There are better ways to catch wanted perps . But if you get a rush out of having a chance to kill with no chance of a penalty . Why think about doing thing a smarter way ? you aren’t paying the bill we the tax payer are .

  3. avatar Kyle says:

    Some of these SWAT teams, from what I have read over the years, really do not have near the level of training that one would think. It depends on the police department and their resources.

  4. avatar C says:

    “The trial revealed that the SWAT team ignored children’s toys in the yard when deciding to go all-in with flash-bangs and full-auto ARs ”

    Because raids are fun and we’ve already got out our kit. What are we supposed to do, just call the whole thing off?!

    1. avatar Bobby says:

      You’re right. We shouldn’t go in and arrest murderers because there are toys in the front yard. If anything, that is MORE reason to get the murderer out of that home. Obviously it is a horrible environment for the kids.

      Its horrible that this happened. But the fact is that flashbangs are used because that is the safest way for LE to enter a home with a violent felon inside. It is the safest for EVERYONE involved, as the occupants inside are much less likely to fight back, thus avoiding violence in MOST circumstances.

      Of course, the nature of the event and the leaves thousands of variables no one can control and bad things can happen when good men try to arrest and suppress evil murderous men.

      1. avatar Agitator says:

        It sure as s#&% wasn’t safest for that 7-year-old girl…

  5. avatar Hasdrubal says:

    If the gun was actually struck with force, an indexed trigger finger may have slipped. Or he may have just not had it indexed.

    Meanwhile, poorly trained? Stupid ass? Gunning down? What information do you have on his or the team’s training? A lawsuit about shooting a dog doesn’t tell me much- some dogs need to be shot and some don’t.

    I know the staff at TTAG have very legitimate concerns about the future rise of a police state, and police conduct in general, but I have come to expect better than this on this site. Unless he or the team have an unusually large number of NDs, or disciplinary actions, or a history of tragic and preventable accidents, I think this one goes a bit too far.

    1. avatar Ken says:

      ” . . . but I have come to expect better than this on this site.”

      Really?? You’re joking, right?

      1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

        From the staff, I expect fair language and research if they want to really condemn someone. I don’t mind the anti statist viewpoint, in ways I share it.

        In the comments section, anything goes.

      2. avatar Bobby says:

        Yes, its very obvious Robert Farago is disgusted with police in general.

        The way you state your ‘facts’ ,Robert, makes your credibility plummet.
        And your ignorance shines through when you talk about cops ignoring the kids toys in the yard.
        Oh, crap, there’s toys in the yard! Let’s pack up and go home boys! We can’t arrest murderous felons if there’s toys at his house!
        Let him go murder more people.

    2. avatar TTACer says:

      So you don’t think killing a seven year old is prima facie evidence of a poorly trained stupid gunning down a seven year old? Did she make a threatening move?

      1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

        Not without more information, I don’t. Neither am I trying to convince anyone here that he’s innocent.

        First, we don’t know what training he got. If he turns out to be stupid, the best training in the world won’t help. Sometimes the stupid just bursts out of people and overrides everything they meant to do.

        Second, I believe the original words called the team stupid. That may have meant this particular team was bad in some way, or that RF doesn’t like SWAT in general. The first may be true but is not supported here, and the second is a completely valid opinion that wasn’t clarified or discussed.

        Third, the words ‘gunning down’ imply he either did it on purpose believing he was shooting a child, or sprayed bullets in a reckless manner on purpose because he just didn’t care.

        Maybe it happened as he said, maybe it’s an excuse for failure to index, and maybe he did it on purpose, although I doubt that last one.

        My point was that if you believe one of the possibilities above the others, you should have some evidence. Without that, easy on the language. And I give my thanks for the change in the text.

        1. avatar Robert Farago says:

          Again: fair enough. I’ll reign it in in the future.

        2. avatar Hasdrubal says:

          Sorry, RF, that last one was meant for TTACer, not you. For what it’s worth, your articles, emails, and the one phone call a while back have caused me to take a closer look at many things I see on the job, and I respect your opinions even when they differ from mine. Which isn’t as often as might be expected considering my job.

          Thanks for everything you do here. Hopefully I can send in a gun review here in a few days, get away from the political stuff for a while.

      2. avatar Ralph says:

        TTACer, if a dead 7 year old girl isn’t proof enough, don’t waste your breath. There are none so blind as those who don’t give a sh1t.

    3. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Fair comment. Text amended.

      1. avatar Bobby says:

        Appreciate your reply Robert.

  6. avatar Mike Crognale says:

    I am of two minds about SWAT. I don’t like them and yet I can see the need if they are up against Drug cartel thugs or home grown/foreign invader jihadis. My biggest worry is that the training is reinforcing something a close friend told me. He’s retired from a local PD here in Texas. He said that the cops have a mind set that there are only two kinds of people in the world. Cops and perps. Given the armored vehicles that the DHS is positioning around the country and the arming of the local PDs, I wonder if this is part and parcel of the planned take over by the proglodytes.

    1. avatar Chuck Pelto says:

      TO: Mike Crognale, et al.
      RE: Dealing with the MRAPs

      Learn how to make and use thermite.


      [The Truth will out…..thermite vs. MRAP, dead bodies of MRAP occupants withing 10 seconds…..]

      P.S. You can get the materials from…..

      1. avatar Blehtastic says:

        Pretty sure all that would do is burn a hole in the armor, if you’re lucky. It’s not going to kill everyone inside. Thermite is a highly overrated combustible.

        1. avatar C says:

          if you can get it to the engine or over the axle you’re going to take the vehicle out of commission, but it’s not something that you can really use on a moving vehicle.

    2. avatar Tom says:

      I have noticed this attitude with some law enforcement officers, except I called it the us vs them mentality. These type of police treat lawful citizens as if they were criminals and felons. We dont need people like this in law enforcement.

      1. avatar Chuck Pelto says:

        Got any ideas on how to eliminate them from the ‘Force’?

        1. avatar CarlosT says:

          Who is this to? What is this in reference to?

        2. avatar Hasdrubal says:

          Few cops start out this way, they learn it through senior officers or by not having enough off duty activities that include friends who aren’t cops.

          If all you see is cops and suspects because you either don’t leave the house on your days off, or hang out with the guys from work all the time, then… all you will see is cops and suspects.

          When I was at the Academy, they brought this up about once a week, and a few times a year where I work. Makes a very real difference.

        3. avatar William says:

          Stop hiring sub-100 IQ veterans of foreign military misadventures; it’s a good start. Combat fosters the “us vs. them” mentality.

          Do we really want dull-normals doing our police work?

    3. avatar Bobby says:

      OK here’s a newsflash for all you people who are afraid of big government completely taking over and stripping us of all our rights and freedoms. (I also am well aware of the govt wanting complete control of the public and wanting the people to be completely dependent on the govt)….


  7. avatar Chuck Pelto says:

    TO: All
    RE: Riots in the Streets?

    Bring it!

    Trayvon is no Martin Luther King Jr.

    And I have to wonder whether or not the NSA will follow the rioters the way they follow the Christians.


    P.S. I’m prepared for either of them…..

    1. avatar Ben in UT says:

      Seriously, why do you do this?

      1. avatar C says:

        are you talking about the email format? if so, seriously!

    2. avatar William says:

      “Trayvon is no Martin Luther King Jr”

      We can be confident of that:

    3. avatar Lars says:

      Rodney King was no MLK and look what happened there. Florida is a much different place than LA though, and this isn’t about white cops beating a black man on video tape. So I doubt any riots would happen on a not guilty verdict that is surely to come at this trial.

  8. avatar Kyle says:

    What is meant by the SWAT team “ignoring children’s toys?”

    1. avatar Chuck Pelto says:

      If the SWATs were as stupid as the vaunted ‘educators’ of the K-12 range, they’d be gunning down everyone in the ‘school’ where someone reported a pastry from PopTarts that looked to them like a ‘gun’.

      At least the police are not quite THAT ‘stupid’…..

    2. avatar Hasdrubal says:

      I think the idea is that if toys are seen, extra care should be taken to try and remove the children who might be inside before forcing entry. Or by some other means to enter in a more cautios way.

      1. avatar Chuck Pelto says:

        Get a ‘grip’.

        The police don’t give a flying flip about children. They excuse it as post-partem abortion.

        Over the past couple of decades their credo of …..TO SERVE AND TO PROTECT

        …..has only been to serve and protect themselves in their roles of killing innocent people or killing others before they can be brought before a court of law….such as such courts have become of late…..

        The whole system of government is coming apart.

        BE PREPARED…..

      2. avatar Bill F says:

        Exactly. Simple situational awareness. Same as a meter reader or letter carrier notices a dog chain/dish/bone and makes a mental note to beware of canine presence. If the SWAT team saw evidence of dogs they probably would have processed that info and been prepared.

    3. avatar Kyle says:

      Ahhh, I get it, they mean the SWAT saw the toys and ignored that thus there were likely children inside.

      1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

        the issue here was at the staging area nearby, they asked about if children were inside as this might change their entry methods. The undercover officer said no, they didn’t see kids toys (which was a misstatement) so they went full in. Once they arrived and saw the toys, it would have been prudent (according to the training officer who testified) to either call off the entry or choose another means (ie, stakeout team to capture the felon). They did neither and went in w a flashbang. They fact they had a tv crew may have played into this poor decision. Of course, the Det PD has made other dumb decisions lately, esp when a tv crew was around (well, watch the video, but a cop almost got ventilated):

    4. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      That’s one of the icky parts of life: decisions.

      “Shall we go in kinder and gentler because there might be kids, or do we go in as planned and stand a reasonable chance of getting the bad guys and living to tell about it?”

      Some believe that the possible presence of children makes a tactical difference, and some don’t.

      They didn’t, but that’s not for me to judge.

      I’m glad I live in the country in Kansas, though. Really glad.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Well, the Feds didn’t give a sh1t about the kids at Waco. Why would swat be any different?

        1. avatar OldBenTurninginGrave says:

          Or Ruby Ridge. Shot a mother holding a baby that was running into her house (not posing any threat). None of the Feds saw any jail time for that as far as I know.

    5. avatar William says:

      Toys in yard strongly suggestive kids in home!

  9. avatar Tom says:

    I am not so sure if there will be riots if Zimmerman walks and he most likely will. I live a few miles away from Sanford Florida and apart from some punks busting out windows and throwing rocks, I dont see anything on a scale like LA or Liberty City. Now that could change if you have outside agitators like Jesse Jackass or so called Reverend Al show up.

  10. avatar Bastiat says:

    This pig will almost certainly walk.

  11. avatar JimD says:

    Every mistake made by LEO’s should be scrutinized and every badge wearing defender punished “zero tolerance” until they recall their actual role in society.

    1. avatar JimD says:

      I meant, “badge wearing OFFENDER”.

  12. avatar RLC says:

    Bad situation, with plenty of blame to go around.
    Let the court do its work, and the jury make its decision.
    Hasnt TTAG learned its lesson jumping to conclusions?

    1. avatar William says:

      You mean the conclusion SWAT maniacs shot a 7-year old dead? That one?

      1. avatar RLC says:

        William. I hope you are trying to be funny, but fyi its not.

        Sub 100 IQ veterans of foreign military adventures?

        I read thru some of the links in the Wikipedia cites.
        I didn’t find anything to indicate “maniacal” behavior. Nor did his fellow officers consider this officer to be a “sub-normal” but nicknamed him “Brain” in a good way, for planning ahead.

        It took me a total of 3 minutes to find this, in the Wiki link footnotes:–sued-for-earlier-raid

        Which paints a much different picture than Roberts post and your comments upon it.

        If you google Tawana Brawley, and read about Rev Al Sharptons involvement, you may understand my caution in jumping to conclusions, in an already emotional situation.

        Its not my job to be the speech nanny here, or persuade you to be a good example of a responsible gun owner, either.

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion- I’m just trying to help you understand mine, and the point that its better to wait until the facts come out, before jumping to conclusions.

        Now, if you have some specific experience in the field of hiring law enforcement officers, and evaluating military veterans that you’d like to share, I’d be interested in hearing more about it.

        If not, may I respectfully suggest you shut your pie-hole and refrain in future from dishonoring those veterans and police officers, before whom you are not fit to crouch at their feet like a dog before them, to apologize, and while you are at it, to thank them for defending your safety and freedoms.

        1. avatar Bobby says:

          RLC, stop exposing these cop hating idiots on this forum to the truth. They don’t want to here that. They want to speak with only emotion and not worry about little things called facts.

          It seems this couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Who actually goes out of Hus way to help needy kids all the time. It is extremely unfortunate, for the little girl obviously, but also is devastating to the officer I’m sure.

          To all the idiots on this forum. Police officers are people too. They are not perfect. And you know nothing about what it takes to enter a dangerous location the safest way possible.

  13. avatar ensitue says:

    It’s Detroit; Would you want to be the last Cop killed before the total melt~down?

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      Then there is one very simple solution. Stop taking the paycheck and find honest work.

      1. avatar Bastiat says:

        ^^+1000 this^^

  14. avatar Blehtastic says:

    If the government stopped throwing people in jail for defending their property with deadly force then SWAT teams would become completely unnecessary.

    This kind of thing shouldn’t even be an option to peace officers.

    No cop needs anything more than an 870 and a full sized semi-auto pistol. If the situation calls for anything more then it’s time to call up the militia.

    1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

      Now that’s an interesting idea, and I really mean it. My guess is that you don’t mean the National Guard, though… an infantry or armor platoon wouldn’t be the best tool to use in most places.

      Do you live in a place where there is a citizen’s militia that could handle apprehending a murder suspect? If not, how do you think such a group could be organized and maintained?

      1. avatar JimD says:

        SWAT is not necessary for apprehending murderes. Regular cops do that all the time. SWAT should be VERY rarely seen only when things are especially bad. Unfortunately, it almost seems like all cops are SWAT these days.

      2. avatar RLC says:

        Exactly- the National Guard was called out one time when they weren’t really trained or experienced in crowd control. Hmmm, I think I am having a senior moment- what was it?

  15. avatar P35flash says:

    What I don’t get about swat is this: what happened to just waitin for the perp to leave the house and nabbing him then? I know that isn’t always possible but it seems like some departments are too quick to want to play with their fancy toys.

  16. avatar Brian says:

    Honest question: Is it possible to have a “full-auto AR”? Doesn’t that turn it into an M-16 / M-4? Forgive my ignorance in advance!

    1. avatar Hasdrubal says:

      I don’t think so, any more than changing components on one brand’s oddly named AR-15 to the same components found on another brand’s would change the model name. My thinking is that to be an M16/M4, it has to be made to the exact spec including receiver stamps, if for no other reason than that those models are defined by military contract. No practical difference, though.

  17. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Detroit can’t afford a riot, much less a large civil damages award in this case.

    Detroit is about to go bankrupt, Chapter 9.

    On Friday, Detroit defaulted on a big pile of unsecured debt:

    They’re doing this to avoid going into bankruptcy, but when they start giving the secured bondholders haircuts, they’re likely going to be forced into BK, because only by doing so will the city have the power to start cutting salaries and pensions of public employees. Since the public employee unions provide the money necessary to prop up the current power structure in the city, there’s a desire by the city political hacks to keep the employee pensions whole.

    When (not if) Detroit goes Chapter 9, you’re going to see some ripples radiate outwards in the muni paper market.

  18. avatar NWGlocker says:

    What’s RF referring to when he says a “j move” with the barrel, for weapons retention?

  19. avatar Saul Feldstein says:

    Cops are the only ones trained and qualified to have guns. We pay cops to protect us, we dont need guns. In Europe only the police have guns. Etc etc

  20. This one is local for me. It is on the local news every day. The grandmother takes every chance to mention (paraphrasing) “If I had made a grab for that officers gun, with all them officers there they would have shot the crap out of me.” I think she kind of has a point.

    During the court there was testimony that they had tested the trigger pull on the MP5, (again paraphrasing) “at 8 pounds it did not fire, at 9 it did.” (not sure why they weren’t using a more accurate device to measure it).

  21. avatar Gruney says:

    The problem with having a SWAT team is that you must then use it to justify the expense involved. Same with those APCs and 50 cal sniper rifles. Gotta make sure they work, right?

    The S is for Special, so I would expect them to be used for terrorists & hostage situations. Murder is pretty common in D so why use them for that? I think they should have sat on the house – people gotta come out eventually. But why wait when you have a SWAT team ready to smash doors and shoot dogs?

  22. avatar Dave says:

    What’s key is this: “… he said he didn’t even feel a recoil in the weapon and first believed the shot came from elsewhere in the house.”

    If he didn’t feel the recoil of his M5, he was pumping major adrenaline. Someone less fearful should have been given point.

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