Detroit police officers will not face charges for the shooting death of Hakim Littleton, the 20-year-old Detroiter who was killed after an encounter with police last summer.
Investigators say Littleton fired five shots toward police and was in-turn struck four times during the July 10 incident near San Juan Street and 6 Mile Road.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office determined that officers used “lawful self-defense” as Littleton brandished a firearm toward police, firing his pistol from the ground before a police officer shot him in the head, killing him.
“After the shooting has completely ended, an officer approaches and kicks the firearm out of Mr. Littleton’s hand where it is then secured by another officer,” said Prosecutor Kym Worthy during a press conference on Wednesday. “Contrary to what has been reported, the gun had not been kicked away beforehand.”
The Michigan State Police investigated the shooting, Worthy said, and the county’s independent Public Integrity Unit reviewed the incident before a decision was made.
“We will reinvestigate everything. By that I mean we will go through all of the materials that have been submitted. We don’t just take the word of the investigating agency,” Worthy said. “We go through all the materials. We interview all the witnesses. We do a lot of work that takes a lot of time, and we did that in this case. This is our normal protocol.”
Police Chief Responds
The Detroit Police Department claims Littleton was not the target of the investigation that brought police to the neighborhood.
“Our officers were there because a week prior there was a shooting at a party. Our officers were there to try to identify people of interest,” Police Chief James Craig said following Worthy’s announcement.
In the moments leading up to Littleton’s death, Craig said a man was identified as person of interest and detained by officers. That individual was arrested on an unrelated narcotics warrant. Prosecutors say no other suspects have been detained in relation to the violence at the July party.
Officers involved in the shooting have not been identified by law enforcement. The DPD member who delivered the fatal shot has been referred to as “Officer D,” while “Officer A” is the reported target of Littleton’s shots.
“Mr. Littleton continued to fire three additional times in the direction of Officer A,” said Craig of the incident. “It’s just by the grace of God that he’s alive today.”
“He’s an American hero,” he adds.
‘They Never Gave Us Any Justice’
Littleton’s family members do not believe the facts of the case as laid out by Wayne County prosecutors and Detroit law enforcement officials, skeptical of the initial police narrative that followed his death.
“I cry every day because we don’t even know the officer’s name that executed my nephew,” said Dawn Fuller, Littleton’s aunt. “My nephew was going places. They never gave us any justice.”
Others point to flaws in the police response to the incident.
“Just imagine you’re just walking down the street minding your business, except for being Black, and you have all these guns pointed at you,” said Noloyiso Maat Bey, another family member. “The very first day, nobody called the family. My older sister came upon the scene on her own.”
Anti-police brutality activists are calling for further review of the case.
“We want a DOJ investigation. We want an investigation from [Michigan Attorney General Dana] Nessel,” said Lloyd Simpson, a member of the Detroit Will Breathe collective. “We want an investigation from anybody who’s interested in an end to systemic racism. Because that’s why Hakim Littleton is dead.”