DETROIT - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is coming to the police department's defense after a SWAT team member's gun went off and allegedly killed a 7-year-old girl Sunday.
"The police department is here to protect, and everybody now is pointing to the police as if they're the villains. I don't think that's the case," said Bing.
The SWAT team member whose gun allegedly killed 7-year-old Aiyana Jones, has been identified, and details about his police record have been released.
Sources have told Local 4 that Detroit Police Department SWAT team member has been identified as 34-year-old officer Joseph Weekley.
How that happened is currently under investigation by the Michigan State Police.
Police said Weekley came into contact with Aiyana?s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, when they busted through the door in the early hours of Sunday morning and his weapon accidentally fired.
Since the shooting, Weekley has been placed on a desk job.
He has been a member of the SWAT team for six years, and on the Detroit police force for 14 years, and has been profiled by the A&E show "Detroit SWAT."
He's also been cleared in a prior shooting during his time on the SWAT team that was not fatal.
Weekley is also currently named along with other SWAT members in a federal lawsuit claiming they pointed guns at children and shot two dogs during a raid in 2009 that netted a man who is now serving seven to 15 years in prison for armed robbery.
Police sources also have told Local 4 that DPD?s SWAT team has been put on hold until further notice. "The police are not just going in looking to hurt people, that's not the case at all. They're looking to protect," said Bing. Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans released a statement Tuesday that said he was extremely sorry for Aiyana's family.
He also said the department "has its own painful self-examination to undergo."
Evans added that the findings of a state police investigation into Sunday morning's death of Aiyana "won't be pretty, but they will be honest."
To read the full statement, click here.
Aiyana was shot in the living room of her home. Police have said the officer's gun discharged after an altercation or collision inside the house with the girl's grandmother.
But family attorney Geoffrey Fieger's account of the shooting contradicts the police department's account of what happened during the execution of a murder warrant at a home on Lillibridge Street at 12:50 a.m.
Assistant Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said investigators had a search warrant for the victim's uncle, in connection with the slaying of a 17-year-old outside a liquor store on Mack Avenue Friday.
Godbee said nearly 20 officers arrived at the home and a smoke bomb was thrown in to distract the occupants, and then the first officer entered the home.
Once inside, Godbee said the first officer, identified as Weekley, was met by Jones' grandmother, Mertilla Jones.
Investigators said Mertilla Jones struggled with Weekley in the front room, just feet from where Aiyana slept on the couch.
"Exactly what happened next is a matter still under investigation, but it appears the officer and the woman had some level of physical contact," Godbee said.
Weekley's gun went off, striking 7-year-old Aiyana in the neck and killing her, said police.
Mertilla Jones was arrested, drug tested and released the next day.
Fieger said a police cover-up that points to the alleged altercation with the grandmother was fabricated after the girl's death to mask the truth.
He said he has seen a videotape that depicts the events of the night.
Fieger would not reveal who showed him and members of his staff the video, but he said a person who was authorized to be with the police and film the raid contacted him Sunday and showed him the video.
The crew for the A&E series "The First 48" was with police, but he would not confirm if the tape came from the reality TV series.
Godbee also said the police department has asked for footage shot by "The First 48" crew, which has been in Detroit for several months while shadowing homicide investigators on a nearly daily basis. Neither Godbee nor A&E would say whether that request was granted.
"The assistant chief claims the shooting was a result of an altercation between Mertilla and an armed officer: That's false!" said Fieger at a news conference Tuesday.
The victim's family joined Fieger, including Mertilla Jones, the girl's mother, father, cousin and aunt.
The girl's cousin, Mark Robinson, said he was in front of the home when police arrived. He said that they grabbed him and threw him to the ground and put their shoes on his neck and back. He said he tried warning them that there were children inside of the home, but they entered the home aggressively anyway.
Fieger said that police fired a "flash grenade" through a plate glass window and then simultaneously or moments later fired a shot.
He said the child, who was sharing the couch with her grandmother, was burned by the grenade first, and then seconds later she was shot.
Fieger said the burn is evident by the girl's burned blanket.
The family has requested that Macomb County Medical Examiner Mark Spitz do an autopsy on the child's body.
"Aiyana Jones did not die immediately, and instead suffered great conscious pain and suffering," the lawsuit states.
The family claimed that once the police realized the mistake they had made, they quickly tried to cover it up.
"The videotape clearly shows Aiyana being carried out like a rag doll and carried into a car," said Fieger.
The family said officers kept them back and would not allow them to see the child.
"They messed up and they know they done messed up. I never struggled with a Detroit police officer. I stayed on the floor with my son. They wouldn't even let us check on her," said Mertilla Jones.
Mertilla Jones said she was treated like a felon moments after she witnessed the death of her granddaughter.
"What type of people? You can?t trust the police," she repeated. "They wouldn?t even let us go check on the other babies, and when I see you all killed my grandbaby, you all know you (expletive) up and one of them said, '(expletive)', and grabbed the baby," said Mertilla Jones.
Fieger claims that the police had a search warrant to look for a 34-year-old man wanted in connection with last week's shooting, but it was the wrong address.
He said the man police were looking for was Aiyana's aunt's fiancé, who lives in the upper level of the duplex, address 4056 Lillibridge, but their warrant was for 4054 Lillibridge.
Fieger said that he was told that an officer at the scene realized that the warrant was for the wrong home, so they quickly went and got a legitimate warrant after the initial raid.
Police said they had warrants to search both units, and family members of the slain girl were seen going in and out of both on Monday.
Fieger pleaded with officers and city officials to come forward and talk about what they saw that evening.
"Mayor Bing, Police Chief Evans, I am asking you on behalf on this family and the officers on the scene to come forward and tell the truth. I saw the video. You all know what happened. Please don?t let this child die in vain," said Fieger.
"I'm not here to defend the police department. I don't know all the elements, but I don't want to point fingers at anybody right now," said Bing Monday.
"You have 15 officers that know what happened and I hope that tape doesn't disappear," Fieger added.
Godbee had said Monday that officials were in the process of acquiring the footage and he wasn't sure how Fieger saw the video.
"If Mr. Fieger has access to anything that would be evidence in this case, he should, as an officer of the court, get it immediately to the Michigan State Police, which will be investigating," Godbee had said in a statement.
Fieger filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday, accusing police of violating the victim's constitutional rights during the weekend raid that resulted in the girl's death.
Fieger also filed a separate lawsuit against the police department on behalf of the girl's grandmother, who police said was involved in an altercation with police moments before a bullet pierced Aiyana Jones' neck.
Download: Fieger Files Lawsuit Against DPD "I doubt very seriously if he (Geoffrey Fieger) knows much about facts. As an attorney that's in this to make money, I think he's setting that up right now. It's unfortunate that you would use a tragedy like this to insight the community. If anything we need to take and try to understand why things like this are happening," said Bing. The case has been handed over to the Michigan State Police to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
"This is a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude to Aiyana's parents, family and all those who loved her," Godbee said. "Again, our deepest and most heartfelt condolences go out to them."
"I think it s appropriate that the Michigan State Police take over the investigation to see what truly happened," said Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Investigation Into Friday's Slaying Continues
Now, investigators are learning more details into the events that led up to Friday's shooting.
Local 4 has learned the child's father, Charles Jones, was seen at the liquor store Friday where 17-year-old Jerean Blake was gunned down.
The 34-year-old man, identified as the child's aunt's fiance, is in police custody in connection with that shooting.
No charges have been filed yet.
Police said the gunman shot Blake, a student at Detroit's Southeastern High School, outside Motor City Marketplace on Mack Avenue because he "Didn't like the way he looked at him," police said.
Full Story:Teen Killed Outside Liquor Store
Funeral Arrangements Made As Family, Community Grieves
"She's the only thing that can make me happy, that was my only daughter for a reason," Charles Jones said. "She was my happiness, she was my joy."
Three other children were also inside the home. They were not injured.
"She was murdered by those sworn to protect in service," said the girl's cousin, Raymond Milton.
Bing said he is hoping this tragedy will draw the community closer, and not rip it apart. He also said he will do anything to support the girl's grieving family. "I will reach out to the family, but they're grieving and I don't think there's anything that we can do to eradicate the feelings that they're [Aiyana's family] having right now. We need to help them, we need to support them and I intend to do that," he said. Aiyana's family will hold a viewing Friday from noon to 7 p.m. at Swanson Funeral home on East Grand Boulevard.
The funeral will be Saturday at the Ebenezer Church on Dequindre Road. It will begin at noon.
The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver Aiyana's eulogy.
A fundraiser for Aiyana's funeral has been set up at Fifth Third Bank.
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