A prosecutor said Wednesday she has decided not to charge Detroit officers in the fatal shooting of a Black man who was recorded by police body cameras as he shot at an officer.
The July 10 shooting of Hakim Littleton was in self-defense, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. He was shot after Detroit officers investigating a July 5 gang-related shooting that left three people dead and five wounded stopped an acquaintance of Littleton’s on the city’s west side.
“The officers in this case acted with lawful self-defense of self and others and thus there will be no charges in this particular case,” Worthy said. “We want to be as transparent as possible. The facts and evidence are on our side.”
The acquaintance didn’t resist while being taken into custody on a narcotics warrant and police cameras showed Littleton, 20, initially appearing calm, even raising his hands before suddenly reaching into his pocket, pulling out a semi-automatic pistol, pointing and shooting it at an officer as they faced each other.
Soon afterward, dozens of protesters converged at the site of the shooting, yelling at police and chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund DPD!” The shooting came as demonstrations were being held in Detroit and other cities following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Detroit police Chief James Craig has said the officer closest to Littleton hadn’t even had a chance to pull his own weapon before the shooting started. A number of shots were fired over a span of seconds. Craig said Littleton continued to fire after he fell to the ground.
Littleton was shot once in the head and three times in the thighs. No officers were wounded.
Littleton, who was on probation for an unarmed robbery, seemed to say something about not allowing officers to arrest his friend before he began firing, Craig said at the time of the shooting. Officers had no intention of arresting Littleton before the shooting started, he said.
Craig said following the shooting that he released the videos promptly because of what he described as rumors about the shooting, which he said included erroneous social media postings that Littleton had been unarmed.
“He pointed that gun” at the officer's head, Craig told reporters Wednesday.
“Mr. Littleton was not even a target,” Craig said. “Mr. Littleton engaged our officers. That’s factual. It was Mr. Littleton who could not understand why his colleague was being detained by Detroit police.”
“They’re not many options when a suspect decides to point a firearm in a threatening way or fires shots at an officer," the chief added. "There are not many options left.”
But Lloyd Simpson, a member of Detroit Will Breathe, which protests excessive force by police, said the group wants access to all video for an independent review.
“We are unsurprised that Kym Worthy would rubber stamp the murder of Hakim Littleton because her office is deeply implicated in the system that produced this tragedy,” Simpson said Wednesday. “Hakim Littleton didn’t have to die."
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.