33-year-old Nakita Williams was killed by Detroit police officers after threatening customers at a gas station over the weekend. It’s the fifth fatal shooting by city police against civilians this year.
Police Chief James White said on Monday the investigation is ongoing but showed members of the media images taken by Project Greenlight, the police’s video surveillance program. He says Williams appeared to be brandishing a firearm at the time of her death, which was determined to be an airsoft pistol after police intervened. White said Williams may have suffered from mental health issues.
“Our preliminary investigation shows that the officers acted bravely. They had to make a split-second decision and they were confronted with a very, very volatile situation and a very tragic situation,” White said.
White did not say how many shots were fired by officers over the course of the incident. But he noted that some officers had not unholstered their firearms when they first approached Williams, who officers say was threatening customers at a Sunoco station at Seven Mile and Hayes, causing a flurry of 911 calls.
White said there’s also police body camera footage of Sunday’s shooting. But the department is refraining from showing that to the public. White said DPD publishes recordings from police-involved shootings on a case-by-case basis.
“This is an active situation. I made the decision to release the stills. Frankly, oftentimes you don’t really see any videos until the investigation is complete. It compromises the work that the prosecutor has to do,” he said.
Detroit police officials said there have been three non-fatal encounters between civilians and officers. They say 10 suspects fired shots at police in 2020.
Earlier this year, 19-year-old Michael Adams III was shot and killed by an undercover police officer who was patrolling drag races in Detroit. His family is suing the city for his wrongful death. DPD says it has video of the incident but has not shared it publicly.