Chief: Video shows man killed by Detroit police fired first

DETROIT (AP) — Video released by Detroit police show a young man appearing to shoot at an officer at close range Friday before fellow officers opened fire, killing the suspect.

Police Chief James Craig told reporters as he released the video Friday evening that the suspect he identified as 20-year-old Hakeem Littleton was no more than 3 feet (0.91 meters) away when he began shooting.

“It’s simply a miracle he wasn’t struck in the head,” Craig said about the officer.

Hours earlier, dozens of protesters converged at the site of the shooting on Detroit’s west side, yelling at police and chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund DPD!”

Craig said he wanted to released the videos promptly because of what he described as rumors about the shooting, which he said included erroneous social media postings that Littleton had been unarmed.

The shooting occurred about 12:30 p.m. as officers were investigating a Fourth of July block party shooting and arrested a different man, who did not resist.

Police had no plans to arrest Littleton for anything, Craig said. Littleton appeared calm on the video, even raising his hands before suddenly reaching into his pocket, pulling out a semi-automatic pistol, pointing and shooting it at the officer as they faced each other.

Craig said the officer closest to Littleton hadn’t even had a chance to unholster his own weapon before the shooting started.

In all, eight shots were fired over a span of five seconds, four by three different officers and four shots by Littleton, Craig said. He said Littleton continued to fire after he fell to the ground.

Craig said Littleton, who was on probation for an unarmed robbery, seemed to say something about not allowing officers to arrest his friend before he began firing.

Littleton was pronounced dead at a hospital. A gun and shell casings were recovered.

No officers were wounded. Those involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.

The other man taken into custody had an outstanding warrant. He is a suspect in a gang-related shooting on July 5 at a block party that left three people dead and five others wounded.

Protests have been held in the city and across the U.S. since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even as Floyd begged for air and eventually stopped moving.