DETROIT — A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday after jurors failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a Detroit police officer who fatally shot a 7-year-old girl during a chaotic search for a murder suspect that was recorded by a reality TV crew.
Loud voices could be heard in the jury room a few hours before jurors threw in the towel and were dismissed. They sent three notes, the last one indicating they still couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on the third day of deliberations, despite encouragement from Wayne County Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Joseph Weekley, a member of an elite police squad, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
He was accused of being "grossly negligent" in how he handled his submachine gun as his black-clad, masked and armed unit stormed the Detroit home to capture a suspect in May 2010. Police threw a stun grenade through a window, and Weekley was the first officer through the door.
Weekley told jurors that he accidentally pulled the trigger during a struggle with the girl's grandmother, but Mertilla Jones denied interfering with the gun. Weekley was not charged with intentionally shooting Aiyana.
The hunt for a murder suspect was being recorded by a crew from "The First 48," a police show on A&E Networks. Some video shot from the sidewalk was part of the evidence.
The jury could have convicted Weekley of involuntary manslaughter, a felony, or reckless discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor. He also could have been cleared of all charges.
"This is a bittersweet outcome: Bitter because Weekley was not convicted, and sweet in that justice for Aiyana Jones will come soon," said Roland Lawrence, leader of a group called Justice for Aiyana Jones Committee, which pressed for charges.
The judge listed several factors for the jury to consider on the involuntary manslaughter count. To convict, the jury had to find that he willfully disregarded possible injuries to others by failing to control his gun, as well as other elements.
"We are stuck," the jury said in its first note Tuesday.
Before dismissing the jurors, the judge asked if anyone believed that more deliberations would be fruitful if "some matters" could be addressed. She didn't elaborate. Only one juror raised her hand.
"One out of 12 probably won't be enough," Hathaway said.
The mistrial doesn't mean the charges go away. Hathaway wants to discuss the status, including another trial, on July 25.
"The Wayne County prosecutor's office is prepared to proceed with the case," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment from Weekley or his attorney, Steve Fishman.
Weekley, the last witness during the eight-day trial, admitted he must have pulled the trigger, but only because he was trying to wrest the gun from Jones. No other officers, however, testified about a struggle with Aiyana's grandmother. One said Detroit police are taught specific techniques to keep a gun away from someone who grabs it.
Prosecutor Rob Moran all but accused Weekley of lying, telling the jury in closing remarks: "It did not happen."
Weekley said he was distraught after the shooting and was shaking and vomiting.
"I just feel devastated and depressed," he testified. "I'll never be the same, no."
Separately, a videographer for the "The First 48," Allison Howard, is charged with perjury and withholding video crucial to the investigation. Her trial is set for June 24.
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In this May 18, 2010, file photo Dominika Stanley, left, the mother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, sits next to Aiyana's father Charles Jones, holding Aiyana's photo, in Southfield, Mich.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
In a Friday, March 8, 2013 photo, defendant Joseph Weekely, right, and A&E producer Allison Howard, who was at the raid, sit in court before Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit. Weekley goes on trial Wednesday, May 29, 2013. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who died when Weekley's gun fired as police, accompanied by a reality TV crew, raided a Detroit home in search of a murder suspect in May 2010. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Coates)
This Saturday, May 25, 2013 photo shows the exterior of the Detroit home where Aiyana Stanley-Jones was fatally shot during a police raid in May 2010. Detroit Officer Joseph Weekley goes to trial Wednesday, May 29, 2013 on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. (AP Photo/Ed White)
Pallbearers carry the casket of Aiyana Stanley-Jones out of the sanctuary at the end of a funeral service at Second Ebenezer Baptist Church in Detroit on Saturday, May 22, 2010. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, John T. Greilick)
Charles Jones, center, the father of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, is consoled by family and friends as they stand in front of Aiyana's open casket before the funeral service at Second Ebenezer Baptist Church in Detroit on Saturday, May 22, 2010. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, John T. Greilick)
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, center, addresses members of the media in his office in Southfield, Mich., Tuesday, May 18, 2010 with from left, Dominika Stanley, the mother of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones, who was killed early Sunday in Detroit, Aiyana's father Charles Jones, grandmother Mertilla Jones and aunt Krystal Sanders. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Coates)
This copy of a drawing provided by attorney Geoffrey Fieger shows the shooting scene as depicted from an independent autopsy of 7-year-old Detroit girl Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Fieger says the independent autopsy shows Aiyana was shot through the top of her head during a police raid on her home. (AP Photo/Courtesy Geoffrey Fieger)