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September 17, 2021: This week in Arkansas news

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | September 17, 2021 at 2:07 p.m.
Jeff Phillips, special prosecutor, announces his decision to charge former Lonoke county deputy Michael Davis with felony manslaughter during a press conference in the Russellville courthouse on Friday, September 17, 2021. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen Swofford)

Here are some of this week's top stories from the Democrat-Gazette.

Little Rock voters reject mayor's pitch for sales-tax increase

Little Rock voters rejected a 1 percentage-point sales-tax increase, championed by Mayor Frank Scott Jr., by a wide margin during a special election Tuesday, scuttling the wide-ranging plan to invest in quality-of-life initiatives as the city emerges from the covid-19 pandemic.

Officials had estimated the tax increase would generate $530 million in new revenue for the city over the next decade before a Dec. 31, 2031, sunset date.

Arkansas to receive more than 90 afghan refugees

Arkansas is expected to receive more than 90 Afghan evacuees in the coming weeks and at least one Northwest Arkansas organization will assist in the relocation.

Former deputy faces felony charge in Hunter Brittain's death

Lonoke County sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Michael Davis has been charged with felony manslaughter in the June 23 shooting that killed 17-year-old Hunter Brittain during an early morning traffic stop, Fifth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Phillips announced during a news conference Friday morning at the Pope County Courthouse.

Phillips’ decision was met with clapping and cheers of “thank you, Jesus” by family and friends in the courthouse during the news conference. Phillips was named special prosecutor for the case July 12 and was passed the Arkansas State Police investigative file July 15.

Internal review: Little Rock police chief discriminated against fired officer

An internal city of Little Rock email released by court order Monday claims that Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey and two other police officials racially discriminated and retaliated against an officer earlier this year, resulting in his termination.

The city to released emails from Arkansas Tech University professor Loretta Cochran to several individual city officials about an adverse employment action against former officer David Mattox by close of business Monday.

New coronavirus cases decrease in state but ICU admissions rise

Arkansas' downward trend in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continued Thursday, with the number of people hospitalized with the virus falling for the ninth day in a row.

The numbers of virus patients who were on ventilators and in intensive care, however, both rose for the second straight day.

The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by 33, to 7,395.

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