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Detroit community leaders calling for more police accountability

Detroit police car
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 18:02:55-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Several community leaders are speaking out against police violence. Fifty-three years ago today, the Detroit rebellion took place. That's why community leaders found it fitting to speak out against police brutality today. They say more needs to be done to better community relations with police. When officers are the ones committing violence, independent investigations must take place. That's the message community leaders on the 53rd anniversary of the Detroit uprising are saying. A coalition formed by more than 15 organizations spoke out Thursday for two reasons: they want an independent investigation into the police shooting death of Hakim Littleton, and the violence against protesters during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Littleton was shot by police earlier this month during an arrest of another man. Police released body and dash-cam video showing Littleton taking out a gun and shooting at officers before police fired back, killing him. Detroit Police Chief James Craig says the shooting was justified, but the organizers disagree. They also spoke out against incidents of police violence during protests. They want answers as to why police used excessive force, like the incident when officers were seen running over protesters during a demonstration. Police say someone smashed a window of the patrol car, startling officers causing them to drive off believing they were being shot at. “We demand accountability and transparency and proclaim all state violence against the Black community must end,” said Chanta Parker with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit. In the Littleton case, the group slowed down the video and put markers on the screen to show that an officer kicked Littleton’s gun away from him after he was on the ground. They counted 10 shots claiming it's excessive since he was already on the ground and disarmed. Now, they want Chief Craig to step down and an independent investigation to take place. Organizers say despite Littleton pointing and shooting at officers first — police did not act appropriately since the 20-year-old was already subdued.

The Detroit Police Department responded in a statement saying, "It’s very important to understand that this case is still under investigation and we have been very transparent to our community. We provided information about the shooting within an hour of the incident, we pushed out three separate videos to refute false information and when we learned of an additional round being fired by the suspect we provided that to our community through the media. It’s unfortunate that a life was lost but we need to let the investigators complete their investigation."