An Arkansas sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed an unarmed teenager during a traffic stop was fired because his body camera wasn’t on when he fired his gun, authorities said.
Sgt. Michael Davis was let go for the June 23 shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain, who family say was killed with an oil jug in his hand that he was going to use to stop his busted truck from rolling.
“Our policy says our deputy must activate the camera before encountering any member of the public while taking official action and certainly as part of any traffic stop,” Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley said in a video posted to the office’s Facebook page.
“My review of this deputy’s actions has determined that he did not activate his body camera in a timely way.”
“This means there’s no video of the actual shooting,” he added. “We see the aftermath, but not the shooting.”
The county prosecuting attorney’s office is handling a probe to see if Davis will face charges related to the shooting, the sheriff said.
Brittain’s death has sparked an uproar in the community, with the family hiring Ben Crump and Devon Jacobs, the legal team that represented George Floyd’s family, according to ABC 7.
Brittain was white, as is Davis, but the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a news release he’ll deliver the eulogy Tuesday to “highlight the need for inter-racial support against police brutality in America.”
The teen, who dreamed of becoming a NASCAR driver, was killed at about 3 a.m. near an auto shop in Cabot, where he’d been repairing the transmission on his truck with a friend, 16-year-old Jordan King.
King told KATV that when the deputy pulled over Brittain, his truck wouldn’t go into park, so Brittain got out and grabbed the oil jug to stop the car from moving and hitting the patrol car. The shot rang out without warning, the teen said, according to KATV.
“They didn’t say one word that I know of,” King said. “I didn’t hear it and it happened so fast.”
Brittain’s uncle Jesse Brittain lamented the lack of details, according to The Associated Press.
“We’re not getting anything,’” Jesse Brittain reportedly said. “We’ve got Hunter’s body, and that’s it.”
The sheriff acknowledged people were angry about the death but warned against protests that crossed the line into illegal activity. He claimed his staff had been threatened dozens of times since news of the kid’s death went national.
“Every one of those threats is a crime and there are investigations under way,” the sheriff said in his video. “Threatening to kill and rape us and our family members is beyond disgraceful.”
In a statement on social media he warned “out of state activists” against inflaming the situation.
The sheriff’s office had originally spelled Brittain’s name as “Britain” in its original announcement of the shooting but later corrected the spelling.
With Post wires.