Hakim Littleton's family, group demand 'credible' probe of police shooting

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News
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The family of a man shot to death by Detroit Police is calling for a "credible" investigation into the incident ahead of Wednesday's announcement of a charging decision in the case.

Detroit Will Breathe and the family of Hakim Littleton issued the demand in a statement just hours before Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is scheduled to release her decision on whether criminal charges will be handed down in the shooting of Littleton last July.

Shortly after the shooting, police released video footage showing Littleton, 20, pointing and firing a gun at officers, but the group disputes the department's account of the incident.

"Detroit Police Chief James Craig has attempted from the start to absolve his officers from any wrongdoing, regardless of the facts," the statement from the Littleton family and Detroit Will Breathe said. "Craig claims that the initial release of body cam footage vindicated his officers when in fact, it took less than a week for activists and a journalist to conduct a walkthrough that clearly showed Hakim was detained before the fatal shot was fired. The truth is, if Hakim had been white and this was Grosse Pointe, he would have been apprehended rather than killed.

"We demand a credible investigation into the actions of the Detroit Police Department," the statement concluded. This injustice will not go uncontested. Hakim’s life matters."

Worthy is scheduled to announce the charging decision at noon; the family and Detroit Will Breathe have scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. at Six Mile and San Juan, not far from where Littleton was shot to death July 10.

Hakim Littleton

Protests erupted shortly after the shooting and Craig released video footage of the incident. The video, taken from an officer's body camera, shows Littleton pull a gun from his shorts pocket and fire two shots from about two feet away from a police officer who was part of a crew at McNichols and San Juan investigating a July 5 mass shooting in which three people were killed and five others wounded.

"There was a false narrative being put out that we shot (Littleton) while he was on the ground," Craig said at the time. "So we released the video, which poked holes in that narrative."

A still from an officer's body-worn camera shows Hakim Littleton leveling a gun at a Detroit cop's head, seconds before Littleton fired two shots, missing the officer. Police returned fire, killing the suspect

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office backed up Craig's statement in its autopsy report. It ruled Littleton's death a homicide, the result of four gunshot wounds — one in the head, two in the right thigh, and one in the left thigh.

Chief Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt's report said Littleton was shot in the back of the head; the bullet went through his brain and lodged in his scalp, where it was recovered.

"There was no evidence of close range fire on the skin and around the entrance wounds," Schmidt wrote.

A toxicology report, which was part of the autopsy, showed Littleton had marijuana and alcohol in his system when he died. His blood-alcohol level was .016.

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

Rally near the site where Hakim Littleton, 20 was shot at the intersection of San Juan and West McNichols in Detroit, Michigan on August 2, 2020.

"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."

State Rep. LaTanya Garrett, D-Detroit, called last July for "an independent and transparent investigation" into the shooting of Littleton.

"Although I applaud Detroit Police Chief James Craig for releasing the dashcam and bodycam video for the public to review, there is no need for a rush to judgment, for a life has been lost and (lives) will be forever changed from this tragic event," she said. 

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