Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, was shot and killed May 16, 2010, by a shot from a Detroit police officer during a raid of a Detroit home in search of a murder suspect. (AP Photo/Family Photo via The Detroit News)
DETROIT (AP) — Police accompanied by a reality TV crew fired a stun grenade through a window as they raided a Detroit home in search of a murder suspect. A gunshot then went off inside, fatally striking a 7-year-old girl in the head while she slept on a couch.
Now, three years later, Officer Joseph Weekley goes on trial in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Jury selection starts Wednesday.
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 shooting shocked Detroit. Cooperation between police and the reality show, “The First 48,” was banned in the aftermath, and the chief soon resigned at the mayor’s request when it was revealed that he was working on plans for another TV show.
But beyond the city, there was little, if any, impact on the hunger for real-life police drama on the small screen. “Cops,” in its 25th year, still is on the air, moving from Fox to Spike TV this fall. “The First 48” has been on A&E Networks since 2004.
“They’re fascinating and compelling,” said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
“Everyone has built into them an inherent interest in encounters with police,” he said. “We know how our adrenaline gets going when we see that flashing light behind us when we’re going too fast on the highway. … Every now and again an incident happens, but it isn’t enough to trump the momentum this genre has.”