By George Hunter, The Detroit News
The man who allegedly fired the shot that killed a 7-year-old Detroit girl during a raid Sunday spent his free time helping kids in need.
The man who appeared regularly on “The First 48,” a cable television true-crime show, also is accused in a federal lawsuit of being part of a team that broke into a home, shot two dogs and pointed a pistol at children, including an infant.
The revelations paint two different pictures of Officer Joseph Weekley, a member of the Detroit Police Special Response
Team who was placed on a desk job after his gun discharged during a raid Sunday, resulting in the death of young Aiyana Jones.
While he has not been identified publicly by the department, a source familiar with the case confirmed Weekley’s involvement to The Detroit News.
Weekley, 34, in 2003 founded the SWAT for Tots program, which collects toys for homeless and abused children during the holidays.
Weekley, whose nickname is “Brain” because police officers said he is always thinking, also was involved last month in a program called “Run With the Cops, Not From Them,” which raised money for children with cancer.
“He tried to make kids see that the cops are the good guys,” said a Detroit police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He spent a lot of his free time going around collecting toys for poor kids.”
Weekley is a 14-year veteran of the Detroit police force and has been on the Special Response Team for six years.
Detroit police officials said he had one previous nonfatal shooting last year, when he returned fire from a man who was shooting at officers. A review cleared him of any wrongdoing, Assistant Police Chief Ralph Godbee said.
The lawsuit, which was moved from the Wayne Circuit Court to the U.S. District Court in April 2009, accuses Weekley and other members of the Special Response Team of entering a Detroit house on Feb. 8, 2007, shooting two dogs, and then pointing a gun at an unspecified number of children, including an infant.
The officers were looking for Marlon Westbrook, who later was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison.
He is incarcerated in the Saginaw Correctional Facility.
A hearing is scheduled for June 9 on whether the case should proceed to trial.
Detroit News Staff Writer Christine MacDonald contributed.