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Police video of fatal shooting shows victim fired on cops

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Shaky Detroit police body camera video shows eight shots were fired in five frenzied seconds Friday during a fatal incident on the city's northwest side that sparked protests in which bottles, bricks and other projectiles were thrown at officers.

Detroit police released the body camera video, along with another video from a squad car's dashboard camera which showed officers fatally shooting 20-year-old Hakim Littleton after he pulled a pistol from his left pocket and opened fire.

Detroit police chief James Craig said he released the video hours after the incident to quell "a false narrative" that the shooting was unjustified. The "erroneous information that was put out has incited violence," Craig said during a press conference at Public Safety Headquarters.

More:Protesters gather after Detroit officers shoot, kill man who fired on them

Hakim Littleton

Craig's comments came shortly after a protest was staged at the corner of McNichols and San Juan, where Littleton was killed hours earlier. Several members of the crowd threw bottles, bricks and other projectiles at officers, who deployed tear gas and made eight arrests, the chief said.

Craig praised the officers at the protest, and those who were on the scene earlier when according to the video, Littleton fired at the officers, one of whom charged the gunman.

"He's a hero," Craig said of the officer. "He showed tremendous courage trying to apprehend an armed suspect. It's simply a miracle he's alive."

The video shows officers from the 12th Precinct arresting Darnell Sylvester on an outstanding drug warrant, Craig said. Sylvester puts his hands up and complies with the officers.

Then, the video shows Littleton walk up to the officers, reach into the left pocket of his shorts, and pull out a gun. He fires a shot a few feet from an officer's head, but misses. The officer then charges Littleton, as other officers open fire.

Three officers fired four shots, Craig said. All four hit Littleton, one in the head. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital, Craig said.

Littleton was on probation for a 2017 unarmed robbery, and felony firearm conviction. He was initially charged with armed robbery, but cut a deal with Wayne County prosecutors for the lesser charge and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Earlier Friday, Craig held a press conference at the shooting scene. Posts quickly emerged on social media claiming Littleton was unarmed, and that he'd been shot dozens of times.

A planned protest at the Northwest Activities Center, part of ongoing protests against police brutality, was switched to the site where Littleton was killed. About 300 people showed up, many of them carrying signs and chanting "we want badge numbers," and "killer cops get out of town."

About an hour into the protest, dozens of people began throwing projectiles at the officers who were amassed on San Juan. Others hurled insults at the cops.

At one point, the officers charged into the crowd, driving them back. Then, the officers deployed tear gas.

"The commander made the right decision," Craig said of the tear gas use.

Friday's gunfire broke out while officers were investigating a mass shooting that had occurred at the site July 5, Craig said. In that incident, three people were slain and five others wounded.

Officers from the 12th Precinct's Gang Intelligence Unit and Operation CeaseFire detail were investigating the shooting at a block party when more violence broke out about 12:15 p.m.

In a statement Friday night, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said police footage demonstrated that the officers' actions were justified.

"The video is clear that the officer was suddenly and unexpectedly fired upon," he said. "I commend Chief Craig for moving so quickly to release the video publicly."