Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigations Releases Report on Clarence Little’s Death

NEW YORK – New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), today released a report on the death of Clarence Little in Brooklyn. After a thorough investigation that included surveillance camera footage, body-worn camera (BWC) footage, interviews with responding police officers and civilian witnesses, ballistics tests, and on-site evidence, OSI determined that prosecutors had no further rebuttal evidence. concluded that it cannot. The trial raised reasonable doubts whether the lethal use of force by police officers against Mr. Little was justified under New York law.

At approximately 4:20 p.m. on January 4, 2022, Little walked into the Dollar Tree store on Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn. He bought some items with cash before leaving the store. About 20 minutes later Mr. Little returned to the store and made another purchase. Surveillance video showed a cashier opening the cash register, and Mr. Little pulled a gun from his coat pocket, pointed it at the employee, then grabbed the contents of the cash register and left the store.

Dollar Tree employees previously called 911 because they thought they recognized Mr. Little from past events in the store. Two police officers arrived just as Little was about to leave. According to BWC footage, one of the officers grabbed Mr. Little and the two struggled on the ground. Mr. Little fired his gun twice, and the Second Mate, who remained standing, fired his service gun in response. Little was taken to a local hospital and eventually died on February 3, 2022. Police recovered the gun at the scene.

Under New York’s justification law, a person may use lethal physical force to defend against an imminent use of lethal physical force by another person. To convict when a justification defense is raised at trial, the prosecution must rebut the justification beyond reasonable doubt.

In the case, an investigation found that Little had robbed a store before getting into a fight with a police officer and shooting him. In such a situation, considering the law and evidence, the prosecutor could not disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who fired the shot was legitimate, and OSI could not bring criminal charges against the officer. decided it was impossible.

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