RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – A special prosecutor said a former Lonoke County deputy will face charges in the death of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain.
Special prosecutor Jeff Phillips announced Friday that former Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office deputy Sgt. Michael Davis will be charged with felony manslaughter in the shooting.
Davis stopped Brittain just around 3 a.m. on June 23 just off of Highway 89 in the parking lot of an auto body shop. The former deputy told state investigators that Brittain got out of his truck and then “got something out of the back” before approaching the deputy. That was when Davis said he shot Brittain, who died later that day from his injuries.
Brittain’s family has maintained that the teen was unarmed at the time of the shooting and had stopped to get a jug of antifreeze out of the vehicle.
Davis was terminated from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office in the days following the shooting, with Sheriff John Staley saying the deputy had violated department policy by not activating his body camera when he initiated the traffic stop, instead only turning the camera on after the shooting took place.
After the charge against Davis was announced, attorneys Ben Crump and Devon Jacob, who are representing Brittain’s family, issued a statement calling this “the first step in the pursuit of justice” for the teen.
“These charges are just the first step in the pursuit of justice for Hunter Brittain whose life was tragically ended by this unjustified use of deadly force. Not only did former officer Michael Davis shoot and kill Hunter, who was unarmed and posed no threat, but he also failed to follow protocol by not activating his body cam until after he shot the teenager. This is the latest example of law enforcement shooting first and asking questions later. Former officer Davis shot Hunter before he knew what Hunter had in his hand — a container of antifreeze coolant. When officers fail to use their body camera, they fail to be transparent. Instead of answers, the family is left with questions about how a traffic stop could lead to the tragic killing of their young loved one.Attorneys Ben Crump and Devon Jacob
“Nothing will bring Hunter back, but we can honor his memory and legacy by calling for justice and change in his name. We hope to see former officer Davis held to the fullest extent of the law and we will continue to call for the passage of ‘Hunter’s Law,’ which advocates for heightened body camera enforcement and transparency, so not one more family will have to suffer loss of this magnitude at the hands of law enforcement.”
Phillips said a bond hearing for Davis had been scheduled for Monday in Lonoke County.