The strange story in rural Lonoke County, Arkansas continues tonight as the second night of protests are underway at the Lonoke County sheriff’s office after a deputy fatally shot and killed a 17-year-old yesterday.
Family and friends of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain gathered outside the Lonoke County sheriff’s office on Thursday and demanded answers from the agency after it fatally shot and killed him.
“He was my grandson. I’m his grandmother. I’ve had him for the last five years of his life,” Rebecca Payne said. “We’re ready to find out something. It’s time they start letting us know something.”
Family and friends said Brittain was working on his truck around 3 a.m. to make it to his construction job at 6 a.m. Scott Hundley is the owner of Hundley Construction and he said that Brittain worked or him off and on for the past few years. Hundley said he talked to Hunter around 7 p.m. the night before.
“I was checking with him on his truck,” Hundley said. “[He was] sending me pictures of his truck at the shop. He says he’s been working on this truck but he’s trying to make it.”
Hundley said that Hunter worked harder than most adults that worked for him. In Facebook messages that Hundley showed to KATV between the two, Hunter tells his boss he’ll ask for a ride form another coworker if he can’t get his truck up and running.
UPDATE: The crowd has walked to the front of the Lonoke County Sheriff department asking for them to come out and speak to them again about the death of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain at the hands of a deputy.
Sheriff’s office Sgt. Michael Davis, whom authorities have said fatally shot Brittain during the encounter, is now on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
There is only one other person that morning that saw Hunter Brittain alive. His 16-year-old friend Jordan King. King told KATV off camera that he and Brittain had worked through the night to change the transmission on his truck so he could work that morning and drove about a mile down the road to Mahoney’s Body Shop to make the repairs. He said their families are friends with the owner.
King said that after they left the auto shop, Davis pulled them over on Arkansas 89.
King said Brittain’s truck wouldn’t go into park, so Brittain got out of to grab a blue oil job to put behind his truck’s tires and stop it from hitting Davis’ car. According to King, David then fired without telling Brittain to stop or get on the ground.
“They didn’t say one word that I know of. I didn’t hear it and it happened so fast,” King said.
King said another deputy soon arrived and detained him.
“[He] told me get out with my hands up and pull my shirt up and stuff, and then took me to the ground, put me in handcuffs and was dragging me around and stuff,” King said. “And then I sat in the back of the cop car for about three hours.”
King said Arkansas State Police showed up later and interviewed him about what happened.
King told KATV he didn’t know why a deputy would shoot Brittain as he was unarmed and didn’t have a weapon, and wasn’t threatening, nor did he look threatening.
King said that when he saw Brittain’s body, Brittain was lying face down on the ground. It’s an image that didn’t seem real to him.
At one point Thursday protesters in pickup trucks did burnouts in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office. Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley went outside and asked them to stop.
Staley released a video on Facebook earlier in the day saying that he’s provided state police with body camera footage of the shooting. He said that while everyone wants the truth, he isn’t sure how much of the incident was captured on camera.
“Sadly, on social media, some people are demanding I take action without waiting for evidence. That’s irresponsible, and I won’t do it,” Staley says in the video. “There’s a lot of misinformation on social media. Don’t believe it. Let’s all wait until the facts are confirmed.”
Even though the investigation is ongoing, those close to Hunter still want the officer to be held accountable.
“I am not a vengeful person, but this police officer doesn’t need to be a police officer,” Payne, Brittain’s grandmother, said. “There needs to be more training for the ones that they have, and I want him to not ever be able to carry a weapon again. And if this is means he’s going to prison, then that’s what it’s going to have to take.”
Thanks to our friends at KATV for contributing to this article.