Covering Louisiana

Aug 29, 2014 10:05 AM by AP

Pastor arrested in shooting of suspected thief

A pastor who once was a New Orleans police officer has been arrested for allegedly shooting a man suspected of stealing copper.

Police said 62-year-old William Littleton was arrested Thursday. He was booked with one count of aggravated battery in connection with the shooting of 50-year-old Rodney Mitchell.

Interim police chief Michael Harrison said Littleton told investigators that on Wednesday he caught two men dismantling and stripping air conditioner units between Littleton's church and his adjacent snowball stand in the Algiers neighborhood.

Harrison said Littleton pointed a gun, ordered the men to stop, and fired after the men fled in a pickup truck.

Mitchell was struck in the head and was last reported in serious condition; 34-year-old Joseph Cross was arrested and booked with theft.

Louisiana law says a person may use deadly force to prevent a "forcible offense," including the forcible taking of property in the person's "lawful possession." But the statute also says that for the act to be deemed justified, the use of force "must be reasonable and apparently necessary" to stop the would-be robber.

Littleton surrendered on Thursday. He was released later after posting a $10,000 bond.

Cross was booked with theft between $500 and $1,499 and simple criminal damage, according to Sheriff's Office records. He was not injured.

Littleton was an NOPD officer from 1974 until he resigned in 1983. He also has a daily radio talk show.

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