LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a teenager during a traffic stop was fired Thursday after the sheriff said he did not activate his body camera until after the shooting took place.
Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley said Sgt. Michael Davis was fired after it was discovered he didn’t follow the agency’s body camera policy in the moments leading up to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain on June 23.
The sheriff’s office has released few details about the shooting, which is being investigated by Arkansas State Police. Staley said the agency’s policy requires officers to activate their cameras before interacting with the public.
“My review of this deputy’s actions has determined that he did not activate his body camera in a timely way,” Staley said in video released on the office’s Facebook page. “This means there’s no video of the actual shooting. We see the aftermath, but not the shooting.”
Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Davis were unsuccessful.
Davis is white, as was Brittain. Brittain’s family members and friends have protested nightly outside the sheriff’s office since the shooting and have complained about lack of details released. Family members have said Brittain was unarmed at the time of shooting and was holding a jug of antifreeze.
“We’re not getting anything,'” Jesse Brittain, Hunter’s uncle, said earlier Thursday. “We’ve got Hunter’s body, and that’s it.”
The family has retained attorneys Devon Jacob and Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd, whose death by a Minneapolis police officer sparked protests nationwide over police misconduct and racial inequality. The Rev. Al Sharpton planned to deliver the eulogy at Brittain’s funeral on Tuesday, Jacob said.
“We’ll let the investigation play out, but I think what we already know is we have a 17-year-old child who was shot and killed by a police officer on a traffic stop merely because he was holding a bright blue jug of antifreeze,” Jacob said. “It’s very hard to explain how we ended up in this situation.”
Crump and Jacob said the Lonoke sheriff did the right thing by firing Davis for not activating his camera.
“Body cameras are, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the only way to see the unbiased facts surrounding a police and civilian encounter resulting in injury and/or death,” the attorneys said in a statement. “When officers turn their body cameras off, they turn off their intent to be transparent along with it.”
Davis had been with the sheriff’s office since 2013.