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‘Thank You, Jesus’: Family Rejoices as Prosecutor Files Criminal Case Against Cop Who Shot, Killed Arkansas Teen

Michael Davis and Hunter Brittain appear in images obtained by KLRT-TV.

Michael Davis and Hunter Brittain appear in images obtained by KLRT-TV.

A special prosecutor on Friday announced a manslaughter charge against a former Arkansas sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a teen during a traffic stop.

Former Sgt. Michael Davis was on duty for the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department on June 23 when he encountered Hunter Brittain, 17, stopped by the side of Arkansas Highway 89 south of Cabot, the Associated Press reported. Cabot is about half an hour northeast of Little Rock.

An arrest affidavit obtained by the AP said Davis shot Brittain in the neck after the teen allegedly failed to show his hands when Davis ordered him to do so. Davis claimed Brittain reached into his truck and that he subsequently pulled the trigger. A passenger who was with Brittain said he “never heard Davis tell the teen to show his hands,” the AP said.

Brittain’s family said the slain teen was holding a container of antifreeze when he was shot. Davis’s arrest affidavit — as reported by the AP — said there were no firearms in or near Brittain’s truck.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Brittain had been up late trying to repair his truck’s faulty transmission. Brittain took the vehicle for a test drive at about 3 a.m. when Davis pulled him over. Brittain’s family said the teen exited his vehicle and attempted to “place a blue plastic bottle of antifreeze behind a wheel because the vehicle wouldn’t shift into park,” the newspaper recounted.

Hunter Brittain appears in an image obtained by KLRT.

Hunter Brittain appears in an image obtained by KLRT.

Attorney Robert Newcomb represents the former sergeant. He has said that Davis pulled over Brittain because the teen’s truck was “smoking heavily and the engine was knocking,” the Democrat-Gazette continued. Newcomb said Brittain “jumped out of the backward moving vehicle and reached into the back of the truck while ignoring oral commands from Davis.”

The Lonoke County Sheriff fired Davis one week after the shooting for failing to turn on his body camera before approaching Brittain, Little Rock FOX affiliate KLRT reported at the time. Davis activated the camera only after he pulled the trigger.

Davis is being prosecuted by Fifth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Phillips of Russellville, Ark.  Phillips’ office is about an hour and twenty minutes west of where the shooting occurred. Phillips was appointed as a special prosecutor to look into the matter and began a review in mid-July.

“Thank you, Jesus,” Brittain’s family and supporters cried out as Phillips announced the charge against the ex-sergeant at a press conference.

“He won’t be an officer no more, and he can’t kill no more kids,” uncle Jesse Brittain said, again according to the AP.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and attorneys Ben Crump and Devon Jacob, both of whom represented the family of George Floyd, have since become involved in the case.

[images via screengrabs from KLRT-TV/YouTube]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.