It was late evening July 15th, 2013 when 19 year old North Carolina Central University sophomore, Lewis James Little was finally released after a month of incarceration for a murder he did not commit. Several charges against Little including first degree burglary, first degree kidnapping, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and felony conspiracy have all since been formally dismissed as an honest mistake. Lewis Little however, has been left to pick up the pieces of an experience truly worthy of a Lifetime Hardship Award.
On the evening of June 20th, 2013 Lewis Little and five of his friends left The Mews apartment complex to meet up and socialize with additional acquaintances at 414 Melbourne Street in northeast Durham. As they arrived by car, they spotted a body of an adult male lying in the street. After departing from their car, they approached the body “to find out why someone would just be laying in the street like that.” Little and his friends were careful to observe without touching or disturbing what appeared to be a potential crime scene. After prompting the man to get up several times and inquiring about his safety without a response, Lewis Little called Durham police. The man on the ground was 25 year old Michael Lee, who was obviously in critical condition as he laid there wheezing his last few breaths. Worried and confused, Little and his friends stood beside Lee, as a small crowd of community members began to gather.
When Durham police finally arrived, they attempted to gather information on what exactly had transpired. Lewis Little, his friends and several others were questioned about what they may have seen or heard. Shortly after, Lewis Little found himself singled out by Durham police officer, K. Hempstead and questioned more abrasively. Without explanation, Little was then informed that he was being detained for further questioning at the Durham Police Department’s 505 West Chapel Hill Street headquarter location. Officer K. Hempstead locked Little in handcuffs and placed him in the back seat of his police squad car. Little was taken to a Durham Police Department interrogation room and read his rights. Though investigators attempted to intimidate Little as they interrogated him, Lewis Little vehemently declared his innocence.
After hours of tedious questions and waiting in the interrogation room, Lewis Little was ordered to “strip down” and remove all articles of clothing in front of male and female officers. His keys, clothing, cell phone, shoes and watch were all confiscated. Little was outfitted in an oversized white paper jumpsuit. Investigators took fingerprints and DNA samples. Lewis Little sat there handcuffed to a steel chair until daylight the next morning. After the department’s morning shift change, he was taken to the Durham County Jail where news cameras and reporters were waiting to catch a glimpse of his face.