Family Demands Justice After Deputy Fatally Shoots Unarmed Teenager During Routine Traffic Stop

‘This is happening all across the country and this is happening too close to home for us,’ says the uncle of Hunter Brittain.

August 12, 2021
Noah Hunter Brittain

Noah Hunter Brittain [via Smith Family Funeral Homes]

Noah Hunter Brittain [via Smith Family Funeral Homes]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A community and a family in Arkansas are grappling with the death of an unarmed teenager who a sheriff’s deputy fatally shot during an early morning traffic stop.

On June 23, Hunter Brittain, 17, had spent the night working on his vehicle’s faulty transmission so he could make it to his job early the next morning, family said.

At around 3 a.m., Lonoke County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Davis pulled over the truck outside an auto repair shop on Arkansas Highway 89 near Cabot.

According to an eyewitness, Brittain’s truck “would not shift into park, so [the teenager] exited the vehicle to put a large bright blue plastic bottle of antifreeze behind the wheel to prevent the vehicle from rolling towards the deputy’s vehicle,” Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney representing Brittain’s family, said in a statement. “Inexplicably, Davis shot him three times.”

The shooting victim was airlifted to Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.

“This is happening all across the country and this is happening too close to home for us,” Harley Brittain said of his nephew’s death, according to Little Rock’s KATV. “If he felt like he was in danger, he's got a Taser on his hip. He didn’t reach for that. He reached for his gun and shot a 17-year-old boy in cold blood, in his throat."

Citing an eyewitness’s claims, the uncle alleged the deputy did not give Brittain any warnings or a chance to get on the ground, the station reported.

Details of the shooting remain murky since Davis failed to turn on his body cam until after the shooting, and the department’s vehicles are not equipped with dashcams, according to Little Rock’s KTHV.

Sgt. Davis’s attorney, Robert Newcomb, countered the claims, saying: “In this case the young man never responded to any of the verbal commands or said anything to officer Davis.”

“It’s a tragedy that young Hunter died. Sergeant Davis is just torn up about it, as you can be,” Newcomb said. “I know he’s not as torn up as the parents. There’s no way to understand all their grief.”

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley announced in early July that Davis, who had been with the force since 2013, was fired for violating official policy to “activate the camera before encountering any member of the public while taking official action and certainly as part of any traffic stop.”

Family members believe Davis should be charged with murder. “Justice looks like this officer getting what’s coming to them, just like any one of us would if we shot and killed somebody,” insisted another of the victim’s uncles, Jesse Brittain, KATV reported.

Crump and a second attorney, Devon Jacob, who both represented George Floyd’s family after he was slain at the hands of a Minneapolis cop in May 2020, hope taking on this case will help highlight the need for change in law enforcement practices and accountability since reportedly around half of all people fatally shot by police are white, like Brittain.

“Hunter Brittain's case is going to be so significant for building even greater interracial support to finally get meaningful police reform in America,” Crump said, according to USA Today.

Brittain family friend Pastor Rick Lehr noted at a July 6 memorial service in Beebe, Arkansas, that the teenager was “a very respectful and passionate young man” in whom “there was a longing to play a part in something bigger.”

“He was placed in the ground, and it has brought so much sorrow and so much pain to so many people,” Lehr said, “but what about the purpose we have now? Look at what God is doing. Hunter’s death is going to play a part in changing the world.”

Next Up

‘I Deserve To Be Locked Up’: Man Gets 205-Year Sentence For Murdering 5 Family Members

“Don't know what in the world came over me,” Christopher P. Stokes told a Wisconsin court.

Teen Confesses To Killing Pop Smoke Over A Rolex, LAPD Says

Detectives reveal how they were able to identify multiple suspects after the rapper's death.

Police: Dad Killed Daughter's Boyfriend Because The Teens Smoked Weed At A Party

“This man plotted to ambush my child at his job and kill him,” the victim's mother said.

Loved Ones Of Ex-Marine Convicted Of Murder Fight To Clear His Name

The family of an Iraq war veteran is asking retired detective Chris Anderson and criminal defense attorney Fatima Silva of Reasonable Doubt to re-examine Tim Wright Jr.’s 2008 murder conviction.

Colorado Teen Shot And Killed While Filming A TikTok Video

On Aug. 7, 2022, Aaliyah Annalyse Ranee Sanchez, 14, was fatally shot while recording a TikTok video with two other girls.

Texas Father On Run For Over 12 Years Found Guilty Of Killing His Two Teen Daughters

“You are a murderer and the devil,” victims Amina and Sarah Said’s mother told her ex-husband, Yaser Said, in court after his conviction.

Man Fatally Shoots Brother Shortly After Release From Prison For Previous Attack

A 29-year-old Florida man free on parole is now facing murder charges after killing his 19-year-old brother, according to police.

Texas Girl, 9, Fatally Shot By Suspect Firing Into Wrong Apartment, Police Say

Aspiring rapper Tyrese Simmons is accused of fatally shooting Brandoniya Bennett.