A judge on Friday tossed out an involuntary manslaughter charge against a Detroit police officer who shot and killed a 7-year-old girl during a 2010 police raid.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway was acting on a motion from the defense as the two-week jury trial headed into closing arguments.
Officer Joseph Weekley still faces a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Weekley is being retried after a jury failed to reach a verdict last year in the same case.
Judge Gray Hathaway said she accepted the defense’s reasoning that evidence and testimony did not meet the involuntary manslaughter charge.
Involuntary manslaughter carries a stipulation of willful negligence but “the entire trial has been about the carelessness of the defendant based on his skills… Nowhere did I hear anything about a willful negligence,” Gray Hathaway said.
Prosecutors made an emergency appeal to restore the manslaughter charge, which the judge is expected to review on Monday.
Detroit police were searching for a suspect in the May 2010 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake when they stormed Aiyana’s building.
The suspect, Chauncy Owens, was apprehended and later sentenced to life in prison. Aiyana’s father, Charles Jones, was convicted of providing him the murder weapon.
The retrial of Weekley comes during a national uproar over issues of police brutality and use of excessive force after an officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., sparking weeks of unrest.
The Detroit Police Department is transitioning out of more than 10 years of federal oversight after complaints of excessive force.
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; editing by Gunna Dickson)