opinion

If you think Justine Damond received justice, you haven't heard of seven-year-old Aiyana.

Content warning: This post discusses subjects that may be triggering to some readers.

It was a warm Saturday night when Justine Damond, home alone, heard a woman screaming.

She wasn’t sure, but she might have heard the word “help”.

The woman, Damond relayed to a 911 operator just before 11:30pm, sounded like “she [was] having sex or being raped,” according to transcripts.

When police did not arrive quickly, Damond called again, about eight minutes later.

They were on their way.

She then called her fiance, Don Damond, but was interrupted by the sound of police sirens. They’d arrived, she told him.

They were the last words they’d ever speak to each other.

Video by ABC

In her pyjamas, Damond walked out onto the street, searching for the police car. Officer Matthew Harrity, according to court transcripts, was startled by a loud sound as the car drove slowly down a dark alley, the lights of the squad car off.

Damond then approached the driver’s side of the car in an attempt to get their attention. Officer Mohamed Mohamed Noor, 32, discharged his weapon, and shot 40-year-old Damond in the stomach.

The bullet hit the Australian-born woman in the abdominal artery. She died at the scene.

This week, Noor was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder, following an eight month investigation. It took the jury less than a day to deliver their verdict.

Noor faces a possible 25 year jail sentence – and so he should.

But, as Katherine Hamburg, a member of the Justice for Justine group argues, there will be no justice for Justine Damond until there is justice for everyone.

And while seven-year-old Aiyana Jones lies deep in the ground, nine years after she was killed, the man who did it walks free.

Aiyana Jones, just like Damond, was in her pyjamas.

Aiyana Jones. Image, social.
Aiyana Jones. Image: Social.
ADVERTISEMENT

She was curled up on the lounge, fast asleep, after midnight on a Sunday night in May, 2010.

A SWAT-style operation targeted her home, after a man was shot and killed the day before. Detroit police obtained a warrant to search the house where he was hiding.

They threw a flashbang grenade, a war device intended to disorient those inside with a blinding flash and deafening noise.

Aiyana's blanket caught fire, before Officer Joseph Weekley fired one shot into the head of the sleeping child.

It was only later they realised they raided the wrong house.

Aiyana's grandmother, Mertilla Jones, who was sitting with her on the lounge, was accused of wrestling the gun off the police officer and causing the fatal shot.

She was arrested, and forced to sit in the blood of her granddaughter for hours, along with two other family members, Aiyana's parents.

Eventually it was determined that her finger prints were not present anywhere on the gun.

"I'm laying there screaming," she relayed during the trial. "Asking someone to help my granddaughter because he shot her in the head. And he wouldn't even help her. They turned on the lights and saw that she had been shot.

"She was only a baby, man. She was sleeping and I told you all ‘Let me get my granddaughter’, and you didn’t give me a chance. Why you do this to me?

"I get no sleep. I am sick. I am sick as hell. I get no sleep. The flashbacks. I wouldn’t wish this on nobody in the world. Not even you," she said.

Jones was later escorted from the court room, screaming.

The man the police were looking for, Chauncey Owens, was found upstairs. He was arrested without struggle.

After two mistrials, Officer Weekley was ultimately dismissed of all charges in January 2015.

He then returned to active duty, as a police officer, in the same year.

Aiyana's story can be multiplied by thousands - and there is no justice for those murdered by the men and women paid to protect them. The ruling we saw this week in a Minneapolis courtroom was the exception, not the rule. It was, in fact, the first in Minnesota history.

The guilty verdict for Noor was fair and founded.

But it was not justice.

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. You click, we help. Shooting star illustration.

Mamamia is funding 100 girls in school, every day.

So just by spending time with Mamamia, you’re helping educate girls, which is the best tool to lift them out of poverty.

Thanks for helping!

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. Girl with pigtails sitting at desk writing in notebook. Row of four books.
Three hands holding books
00:00 / ???