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Detroit Sergeant Fights Tears Recalling Raid

Detroit Police Sgt. Anthony Potts fought back tears Wednesday as he recalled the night 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed during a raid on the home in which she was sleeping.

He recalled being outside the home watching the upstairs balcony as members of the Special Response Team raided the two-unit dwelling looking for a homicide suspect on May 16, 2010.

A flash-bang grenade went off, and later, he heard a "pop" and suspected the entry team shot a dog inside the home with an MP5 submachine gun, Potts said.

Then a woman screamed, and shortly afterward, he discovered that Aiyana was shot.

"One of my officers was holding a little girl in his arms," he said in emotional testimony today in the trial of an officer accused of gross negligence in connection with Aiyana's death.

Potts said, "Let's go, let's go," and immediately left the home with an officer, who was carrying the girl. They rushed her to St. John Hospital and Medical Center, where a trauma team was waiting, but Aiyana did not survive.

Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death.

Weekley's attorney, Steve Fishman, doesn't dispute the bullet came from his client's gun but said the girl died in a tragic accident.

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Potts was one of several people who told jurors in Wayne County Circuit Court today how the raid unfolded. It came a day after jurors watched dramatic video taken from outside the property on the city's east side by a cable TV crew embedded with police. In that video, the sound of a gunshot can be heard about three seconds after the diversionary device exploded.

Mark Robinson testified that he lived at the home of his aunt, Mertilla Jones, on Lillibridge and was outside when police arrived to raid it.

He was told to lie on the sidewalk, Robinson said, but he still could see the house. Robinson said he saw police run up and yelled to them that there were kids inside.

He heard glass break, the flash-bang grenade explode, and the gunshot, which he said came from the porch and was followed by screams.

"Y'all killed my baby," he recalled Jones, who is Aiyana's grandmother, saying. "Y'all killed Aiyana."

Earlier today, Sgt. Courtney Anderson, who conducted surveillance outside the house before the raid, testified he did not see any toys outside beforehand.

If he had, he would have reported it, he said.

A picture taken with a flash outside the dwelling after the raid showed there were toys there, indicating there may be children inside, but it was dark that night.

Anderson said Weekley helped to train him on tactics when he joined the Special Response Team, teaching him about executing a search warrant.

He said he had a lot of respect for Weekley then and now.

Potts said he has known Weekley for seven to eight years and that the response team is like family. Fishman asked him what kind of officer Weekley was. "A damn good one," Potts replied.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran asked him whether he had a hard time answering some of his questions because he was testifying against someone he thought of as a family member.

"I haven't had any problems answering your questions," Potts replied. "You have a hard time expressing exactly what you want."

He was questioned about whether anyone lingered in the area known as the "fatal funnel," which was the doorway that opened to the front room, during the raid. Potts said his attention was on the balcony upstairs.

But the prosecutor brought up earlier grand jury testimony, in which Potts said there was a hang-up of a few seconds in that area, and asked him about it.

"I don't consider lingering a few seconds," Potts said.

Testimony is set to resume Thursday morning in Wayne County Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway's courtroom.

Copyright 2013 - Detroit Free Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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