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Ex-deputy Michael Davis sentenced to a year in jail for fatal shooting of Arkansas teen Hunter Brittain

by Teresa Moss | March 18, 2022 at 11:09 a.m.
Arkansas State Troopers escort former Lonoke County sheriff's deputy Michael Davis (left center) after being convicted of negligent homicide on Friday, March 18, 2022, at the Cabot Readiness Center in Cabot. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Tommy Metthe)

CABOT — A former Lonoke County sheriff’s deputy who was convicted of negligent homicide Friday morning in the fatal shooting of teen Hunter Brittain has been sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Michael Davis was charged with felony manslaughter Sept. 17 following the death of Brittain, 17, of McRae, during an early morning traffic stop June 23. The charges were brought by special prosecutor Jeff Phillips of the 5th Judicial District.

Negligent homicide is a misdemeanor.

Following a brief sentencing hearing, Davis was sentenced to the maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A majority of the Brittain family left the court room following the verdict and gathered in the parking lot of the Cabot Readiness Center, where the trial was held. They cried, played music and talked about Brittain in Heaven, pulling out signs calling for justice for Brittain and chanting "Justice for Hunter."

Family members were told not to make a statement until their attorney was present, but the family has been adamant since the charge was filed that they wanted a felony charge for the purpose of keeping Davis from ever working as a law enforcement officer again.

"We were willing to let him go for a long probation, but we wanted that felony," said Rebecca Payne, the grandmother who raised Hunter. "He will never be forgotten. He meant a lot to us. We are not going to forget about him ever."

"It is what it is," said Jesse Brittain, Hunter's uncle. "We don't like it, but we accept it."

The case made national headlines and gained the attention of civil-rights activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at Brittain’s funeral July 6 at Beebe High School, where the teen attended school.

Brittain’s family retained Benjamin Crump and Devon Jacob soon after the shooting to handle the teen’s estate and any civil suits. The attorneys have been involved in high-profile homicide cases that include George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery.

Davis is one of five Arkansas law enforcement officers who have been charged in an on-duty shooting since 2005, according to data collected by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Public Database. He is the first to be convicted by a jury.


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