Detroit police have released a frame-by-frame video that they say shows 20-year-old Hakeem Littleton firing a gun at very close range at a police officer before Littleton was shot to death by other officers, sparking protests, violence and calls to defund the police in the Michigan city.
The dramatic video can be watched below, but be aware that it is disturbing. The officer was not injured. Police Chief James Craig released the body and dash cam footage shortly after the July 10 shooting and called the officer who was shot at a “hero.” The shooting death sparked violence at the scene that led to the use of tear gas after, Craig said, people threw rocks and bottles at officers.
The police chief painstakingly narrates the video, first showing it in slow motion. He said that there were false social media reports that Littleton was unarmed, sparking violence against officers. Rather, the chief said, Littleton fired four shots at police officers at close range. According to The New York Times, Littleton was on probation for unarmed robbery. He died at a hospital.
Here’s what you need to know:
Chief Craig Says Littleton Fired His Gun Four Times
The chief slowly narrated the video so people could get a good sense of what happened. “You see here, police officers coming up here on the scene. There were a total of four… in the area,” he said.
A man in a white T-shirt, who is seen in the video, was the focus of their investigation. He was being arrested. He put his hands up and didn’t offer any resistance, as an officer handcuffed him, said Craig. That man was not Hakeem Littleton.
Littleton was the man seen in the video wearing the orange/red T-shirt and standing very close to his “associate” in the white T-shirt, says the chief.
The chief added that, “he’s (Littleton’s) got his hands up. He reached in his left pocket. You can see he’s leaning down. Right at this point, he pulls out a gun and fires directly at the officer. We believe… he fired two shots in quick succession. This officer is a hero. Even though he’s being fired upon, he did not have his gun out at that time, he pursued this individual.”
The video shows that officer pursuing and holding down Littleton. “As he was going to the ground the suspect, Mr. Littleton, fired two additional shots… we have recovered four spent casings,” Craig said.
There were two casings found near the spot where Littleton was first standing upright in position. At the spot where Littleton went down on the ground, he fired two additional shots, Craig said. “That’s when the other officers fired the shots” that killed Littleton, said Craig.
“At this point, this is where he reached out and pulled…the pistol out of his pocket. It’s a miracle he (the officer) was not struck by gunfire. A total of four shots were fired by officers. A total of four shots were fired by the suspect,” said the police chief.
Tear Gas Was Used at the Scene After Police Say People Hurled Rocks & Bottles at Officers
According to MLive, a “tense scene” developed near the spot where Littleton, 20, was shot and killed by Detroit police earlier in the day on Friday, July 10. Brendan Scorpio, a protest organizer with the group Detroit Will Breathe, told MLive, “They killed a man today. I don’t give a f**what happened, they shouldn’t have killed a man today…” He added: “We are fighting for a system where the police shouldn’t have been there to begin with, the police shouldn’t be putting people in positions where they feel like they have to protect their lives because they see a badge.”
Protesters were already gathering by the time police released the video. The New York Times reported that protesters shouted, “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund DPD!”
The chief said in his news conference that he was going to go through the “facts as we know it.” He said that gang intelligence officers were arresting the other man at 12:35 p.m. on Friday for an active federal warrant for drug distribution. He was being arrested without resistance. The New York Times reported that the first man being arrested was also a suspect in a gang-related July 5 shooting that left three people dead and more wounded.
As officers were taking him into custody, a witness said Littleton said something to the effect of “you’re not going to take my man” (into custody), said the chief.
“Mr. Littleton then fired a shot at one of our police officers at close range.” He estimated Littleton was standing two-three feet from the officer when he opened fire.
The chief said erroneous information was being put out on social media. A group gathered where the shooting took place, and rocks and bottles were hurled at officers, he said, adding, “It became very violent.” So the chief said it was important to get the video out.
Police used teargas at one point.