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Chief: Dismissed terror charge ‘missed opportunity’

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — “I don’t think the people have made their case in this matter.”

With those words from Judge Deborah Lewis Langston of Detroit’s 36th District Court, a threat of terrorism charge against 43-year-old Stuart Horatio Lewis, accused of spraying “Kill James Craig” and “Kill All Cops” in October on an outside wall near his home at Exeter and West State Fair, was dismissed.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig had testified at Lewis’ preliminary exam Tuesday, his latest attempt to see to it that people accused of making explicit threats against police be brought to justice.

That effort, which Craig addressed in a news conference Wednesday morning at Detroit Public Safety headquarters, has had mixed results.

That threats against the police should be treated seriously by the legal system is a cause Craig has championed both locally and nationally. Craig says he feels it is inappropriate, at a time when three law-enforcement officers have been killed in Detroit in the last two months, to “wait for something to transpire” rather than taking people who make threats at their word.

“If this had happened in Oakland or Macomb County, what would have been the response?” Craig asked.

In August, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy declined to bring charges against Nheru Gowan Littleton, 40, one of three men Detroit police said made a terroristic threat online. Littleton is accused of writing “F them racist (expletive) cops!!! Kill them ALL. Black Lives Matter. Black people should start killing all white cops just like they are killing us!!!”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette took on the case, telling The News at the time that “these charges are substantive. I stand with the cops. These threats are serious. They provoke violence ... this is a fight worth fighting for.”

Littleton has been bound over for trial, Craig said.

“Our police officers don’t sign up to not be supported,” Craig said Wednesday, calling Langston’s ruling a “missed opportunity” to present a “unified front” that threats against police will not be tolerated.

In court Tuesday, Craig said that “with the anti-police rhetoric, certainly I take all threats seriously” but that he’s “more concerned about the officers that may make contact at some point with a suspect responsible for making that writing.”

The graffiti Lewis allegedly wrote is not the only threat he made, Craig said. During an interview, Craig said Lewis allegedly threatened to kill the investigator and his family. Craig didn’t hear of that threat until much later, and says officials would have pressed for additional charges, had that been known at the time.

Craig was asked if he saw a link between the investigator not passing on the threat and Langston dismissing the terror charge. He said he saw them as separate matters.

“He just lost focus,” Craig said of that investigator. “He’d just been threatened.”

Lewis has denied writing the graffiti. At Tuesday’s preliminary exam where the threat of terrorism charge was dropped, the defendant was bound over for trial on charges of malicious destruction of property and possession of marijuana, in addition to charges of felonious assault and felony firearm with a pneumatic gun in a separate case.

Craig questioned how someone could be bound over for trial for writing a piece of graffiti but have the charge relating to what the graffiti said dismissed.

“Where’s the missing link?” Craig asked.

jdickson@detroitnews.com