Attorneys call for ouster of Arkansas sheriff after ex-cop conviction

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Attorneys call for ouster of Arkansas sheriff after ex-cop conviction

Attorneys for the family of an unarmed teenager shot dead during a traffic stop are calling for the resignation of the sheriff after a former deputy was sentenced for the killing.

Now-fired Lonoke County Sgt. Michael Davis was sentenced Friday to a year in prison on a negligent homicide charge for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain on June 23.

Davis was fired because he hadn’t activated his bodycam during the shooting — but attorneys for Brittain’s family say Sheriff John Staley should have fired Davis for shooting Brittain, a white teenager whose death drew national headlines and attention from civil rights activists.

“Instead, [Staley] fired Davis for not recording the crime, instead of for committing the crime,” attorneys Ben Crump and Devon Jacob said in a statement after the sentencing.

“Hunter deserved better. The public deserves better. Staley should resign immediately or be set aside by the voters.”

The legal team also represented the family of George Floyd, the man killed in 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police whose death became a rallying cry in the Black Lives Matter movement. The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at Brittain’s funeral.

Attorney Ben Crump stands next to Hunter Brittain's casket at Beebe High School before his memorial service in Beebe, Arkansas on July 6, 2021.
Attorney Ben Crump stands next to Hunter Brittain’s casket at Beebe High School before his memorial service in Beebe, Arkansas on July 6, 2021.
AP Photo/Andrew Demillo, File

Staley responded to an email from The Post with a prepared statement saying he respected the jury’s decision.

“As I have said since day one, this was a tragic event and we all need to continue praying for those involved,” Staley said.

Davis was acquitted by a jury on the more serious charge of felony manslaughter for shooting.

Jesse Brittain, left, and his mother, Rebecca Payne, center, walk in to the Cabot Readiness Center for the final day of the trial of former Lonoke County sheriff's deputy Michael Davis, who was convicted of negligent homicide on Friday, March 18, 2022, in Cabot, Ark.
Hunter Brittain’s family called for Davis to be convicted of a felony in the shooting.
Thomas Metthe/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP

Brittain’s family members told the Associated Press they had wanted Davis convicted of a felony because it would have meant he couldn’t work in law enforcement again.

“Now what’s going to happen?” grandma Rebecca Payne said. “Are people going to have to fear for their lives again?”

The teenager and a friend had apparently been working on the pickup truck’s transmission and giving it a test spin at the time of the shooting. Brittain’s family claimed the teenager was shot as he reached for an oil jug to prevent the truck from rolling backward.

With Post wires

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