Jury selection was set to begin Tuesday in the trial of a former Arkansas deputy charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting a white teenager during a traffic stop, a case that has drawn the attention of national civil rights activists.
Michael Davis, a former sergeant with the Lonoke County sheriff's office, faces between three and 10 years in prison if he's convicted in the shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain. Davis, who is white, has pleaded not guilty.
Davis shot Brittain during a June 23 traffic stop outside an auto repair shop along Arkansas Highway 89 south of Cabot, a city of about 26,000 people roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.
Davis told investigators he shot Brittain once in the neck after the teen reached into the back of his truck and did not comply with his commands to show his hands, according to the arrest affidavit. Brittain was holding a container — which his family members have said held antifreeze — and no evidence of firearms were found in or near the truck, the affidavit said.
A passenger with Brittain said he and the teen had been working on the transmission for Brittain’s truck. The passenger told investigators he never heard Davis tell the teen to show his hands.
Davis was fired by Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley in July for not turning on his body camera until after the shooting occurred. Staley said there’s no footage from the shooting, only the aftermath.
Brittain was eulogized last year by the Rev. Al Sharpton and two attorneys who represented George Floyd’s family. They said the teen’s death highlighted the need for interracial support for changes in policing. Brittain’s family and friends have regularly demonstrated outside the Lonoke County sheriff’s office, demanding more details on the shooting.
Floyd died in May 2020 when a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin the handcuffed Black man’s neck to the ground. His death sparked nationwide protests over policing and racial inequality.