Detroit police released camera footage during a fatal shooting hours after it occurred on Friday, and it appears to show the suspect pulling a gun and firing at an officer before officers return fire, killing him.
Hakim Littleton’s death prompted protests. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said that the footage was released to “set the record straight,” according to the Detroit Free Press. There were rumors, he said, that Littleton was unarmed when he was shot and was “executed” by police.
But Craig said the body-camera and dash-camera footage debunks those rumors.
“Despite being fired upon—and you saw it with your own eyes—he continued to advance,” Craig said, reported ClickonDetroit. “He doesn’t even have time to take out his weapon. He wanted to serve, putting his own life in jeopardy.”
Craig said that the suspect, who is black, aimed at the officer’s head, leaving the official shaken up.
“Clearly when you look at this video, the officer responded appropriately,” Craig said, according to ClickonDetroit. “It certainly was a threat to that of his own life and that of his partners.”
“It’s always tragic when a police officer has to use force,” Craig said, adding that “this knee-jerk reaction to not knowing facts is a problem … It’s to incite others.”
However, activists with Black Lives Matter-affiliated organizations claimed the police didn’t engage with the community despite the video showing that Littleton opened fire at officers.
“Instead of engaging with the crowd by sending someone to talk to people, to tell us that the video would be released in a couple of hours, to reach out to the family, DPD sent police in riot gear marching through the neighborhood to intimidate the crowd, ram them with shields, beat them with batons, and blind them with pepper spray. Once again, DPD showed its inability to deescalate a situation and sought to beat any criticism of DPD away with their batons and shields,” Detroit Will Breathe said in a statement, according to ClickOnDetroit.
“We know for a fact that had we not been out here that video would not have been released the same day,” said protest organizer Tristan Taylor of Detroit Will Breathe, the station reported.
Before the video was released by the police department, Detroit Will Breathe had claimed police unlawfully killed Littleton.
After Littleton was killed, individuals on Twitter called on people to protest. One person wrote: “Everyone in detroit, police just killed a kid at san juan and 8 mile. get out there #abolishthepolice #detroit.”