Detroit man arraigned after alleged police threats

George Hunter and Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

A Detroit man was arraigned Thursday on charges that he made a terroristic threat against police in an alleged Facebook post stating that black people should “start killing all white cops.”

Nheru Gowan Littleton, 40, received a $1 million bail, cash or surety at arraignment in 33rd District Court, according to the office of Attorney General Bill Schuette. He is due back in court for hearings Oct. 13 and Oct. 20.

Schuette’s office charged the man with making a terroristic threat and using a computer to commit a crime, both 20-year felonies. Littleton allegedly wrote on July 9: “F them racist a__ cops!!! Kill them ALL. Black Lives Matter. Black people should start killing all white cops just like they are killing us!!!

“Then and only then will this s___ stop. Why you ask? Because white people will be dropping like flies!!!”

Schuette on Wednesday announced charges against Littleton, two months after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy declined to charge the man because she said his social media post didn’t rise to the level of a crime.

Littleton’s was one of three cases from July where police say threats were posted on social media. Worthy’s office declined to seek charges in two of the cases and asked for more investigation in the third.

Schuette said during a news conference Wednesday at Detroit police headquarters that the post constituted a terrorist threat.

“This type of action endangers law enforcement, makes our schools and neighborhoods less safe, and encourages violent behavior which threatens the lives of law enforcement across the United States,” he said.

Police arrested Littleton on Wednesday night after a brief manhunt.

Schuette’s remarks are in contrast to Worthy’s Aug. 30 written statement that “the case could not be charged under Michigan’s terrorism statute.”

Worthy added at the time: “The statement (made by Littleton) is vague. He did not indicate that he was the one who was going to kill all white cops, and never said that his Facebook friends should kill all white cops. Further, he did not indicate when all white officers should be killed or which white officers should be killed.

“There is no evidence the suspect took any action himself, or did anything to facilitate the killing of white officers.”

Worthy added that Littleton was in Puerto Rico when he wrote the post, and said he couldn’t be charged because he wasn’t in Wayne County.

When asked to comment on the differing legal opinions about whether charges could be brought, Schuette said: “These charges are solid and substantive. I stand with the cops. These threats are serious. They provoke violence. We filed these charges; they’re solid, and this is a fight worth fighting for.”

Schuette added there’s a statute that allows charges to be filed if someone “makes an act from another state that has a detrimental impact on Michigan.”

More than a dozen police officers from multiple area police agencies were deployed in the search for Littleton after his alleged post was reported, according to Schuette’s office.

Worthy said in a statement Wednesday that it is Schuette’s prerogative to file charges in one of the Facebook cases.

“We stand by our decision in that case and we will continue to advocate for needed changes in the applicable statutes,” she said.

Courts have ruled that “true threats” are not protected under the First Amendment. But determining when lawful speech crosses the line and becomes unlawful is difficult, and the definition of a “true threat” is open to interpretation, legal experts say.

After Wednesday’s press conference, Detroit Police Officers Association president Mark Diaz praised Schuette’s decision.

“On behalf of the law enforcement community, we’re thankful for the attorney general’s leadership, after the Wayne County prosecutor absolutely failed,” he said.

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier