Arkansas deputy testifies in trial over teen’s shooting

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 1:58 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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CABOT, Ark. (AP) — A former Arkansas deputy on trial for fatally shooting an unarmed 17-year-old during a traffic stop testified Thursday that he fired because he believed the teen was reaching for a gun.

Michael Davis, a former sergeant with the Lonoke County sheriff’s office, got emotional at times as recounted the June 23 fatal shooting of Hunter Brittain, who was white. Davis faces between three and 10 years in prison if a jury convicts him of felony manslaughter for shooting Brittain, whose death drew the attention of national civil rights leaders and activists.

“I didn’t get into this job to kill people,” Davis, who is also white, said as his voice cracked during more than an hour of testimony.

Brittain was killed outside an auto repair shop near Cabot, a city of about 26,000 people roughly 30 miles northeast of Little Rock.

Davis testified that he fired at Brittain after the teen didn’t comply with his commands to show his hands and reached into the back of his pickup truck. Brittain was holding a container — which his family members have said held antifreeze — and no evidence of firearms was found in or near the truck, investigators said.

“I didn’t know what he was reaching for,” Davis testified. “I thought he was reaching for a gun, a rifle, specifically.”

A passenger who was with Brittain and another witness who was in the auto repair shop have testified they didn’t hear any commands from the deputy before he shot the teen.

Davis was fired by Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley in July for not turning on his body camera until after the shooting. Jurors this week were shown that footage, which shows the moments after the shooting.

Prosecutors were set to cross-examine Davis on Thursday afternoon. Other witnesses who testified Thursday included a deputy who responded after the shooting and a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office who coordinated officers’ training.

According to KARK, the jury will reconvene on Friday at 9 a.m., with a possible verdict being reached the same day.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Content partner KARK contributed to this report.