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Special Prosecutor Chosen; Defense Attorney Breaks His Silence In Teen's Shooting

Family and friends of Hunter Brittain held regular demonstrations outside the Lonoke County Sheriff's Office after the death of Hunter Brittain.
KATV-Channel 7
Family and friends of Hunter Brittain held regular demonstrations outside the Lonoke County Sheriff's Office after the death of Hunter Brittain.

Three weeks after 17-year-old Hunter Brittain was shot and killed by Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Davis during a traffic stop near Cabot, the defendant’s lawyer has broken his silence on the case.

Attorney Robert Newcomb, the same lawyer who represented former Little Rock police officer Charles Starks in the shooting death of Bradley Blackshire, told KATV News that he has encouraged Davis to request a grievance hearing to be reinstated as a deputy.

Davis was fired by Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley about a week after the teen’s death because he didn’t turn his body camera on until after the shooting occurred. But Newcomb says the officer thought he had it turned on and should have never been fired.

“Sergeant Davis told him he thought he had it turned on, he went through the motions. Either the camera malfunctioned or he didn’t get all of the things pushed,” Newcomb told the television station.

According to the attorney, the former deputy was ordering Brittain to show his hands but said that the teen never responded to any of the verbal commands.

“It’s a tragedy that young Hunter died. Sergeant Davis is just torn up about it, as you can be,” said Newcomb.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham had sent the case file to the state prosecutor coordinator to be assigned to a special prosecutor. This is typically done to avoid bias since in smaller communities, police and prosecuting attorneys know each other.

Monday evening, the announcement came that Jeff Phillips was chosen to decide whether or not to prosecute Davis for the fatal shooting of Brittain. Phillips is the prosecuting attorney for the 5th Judicial District of Arkansas, comprising Franklin, Johnson, and Pope counties. 

A public statement released by Special Prosecutor Phillips on Wednesday morning said that he has not yet received the investigative file but does expect to receive it sometime within the next 10 days. Phillips also stated that as a prosecuting attorney, he his bound by the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct concerning pre-trial publicity.

"I will not be making any other statements concerning this case until a decision has been made," said Phillips.

Christine Jones was an intern with KUAR News in the summer of 2021 as part of the George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship program. She is a writer, editor, and student in the UA Little Rock Professional Technical Writing MA Program. She also works as a Graduate Assistant for The College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education at UA Little Rock, as the Communications Assistant.
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