DETROIT – Protests in response to a fatal officer-involved shooting Friday resulted in the arrests of eight people.
People gathered at the site hours after 20-year-old Hakim Littleton was shot and killed on Detroit’s west side. They demanded police release video of the fatal shooting.
During a Friday evening press conference, the Detroit Police Department released body camera footage of the incident to combat rumors on social media that police killed an unarmed teenager. The graphic footage shows Littleton fire a gun at an officer before police shot him.
“I just thought that it was highly inappropriate and really shocking that there was no one there to give the community any answers or any way to engage,” said Tristan Taylor, with Detroit Will Breathe. “We know for a fact that had we not been out here that video would not have been released the same day.”
Police chief James Craig spoke about the incident Saturday morning. He said he stands behind his officers and their decision to pull the trigger.
“Clearly when you look at this video, the officer responded appropriately,” Craig said. “It certainly was a threat to that of his own life and that of his partners.”
“Detroit Police Department shows us again that it doesn’t have the strength and doesn’t know how to engage with citizens in a way that is geared towards deescalation,” Taylor said.
Detroit Will Breathe released a statement Saturday criticizing Detroit police’s decision to have officers in riot gear in response to demonstrators who marched Friday. It reads, in part:
“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.”
The organization was critical of how much information Detroit police released of the situation, and while the video cleared some details up, said more context was needed.
“The video sheds some light on the situation, such as the fact that Hakeem LIttleton shot at police and attempted to flee from officers. What the video doesn’t show is Hakeem’s motivation or whether he perceived his life to be in danger by DPD. It is unclear if he had history with the police officers or not, something a thorough investigation and background check of the officers involved in the shooting would help uncover. "
Detroit Will Breathe said it should be standard that footage of officer-involved shootings be released the day of the incident, as well as the names and records of officers involved.
“Police do not have the right to act with impunity, and the community has every right to demand accountability and oversight.”