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Trial set to begin for Arkansas officer in teen shooting

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Arkansas deputy shoots teen (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Tuesday in the trial of a former Arkansas congressman charged with involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting a white teenager during a traffic stop, a case that has drawn the attention of national civil rights activists.

Michael Davis, a former Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, faces three to 10 years in prison if convicted in the shooting of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain. Davis, who is white, has pleaded not guilty.

Davis shot Brittain during a June 23 traffic stop outside an auto repair shop along Arkansas Highway 89 south of Cabot, a city of about 26,000 people about 30 miles (48 kilometers) away. northeast of Little Rock.

Davis told investigators he shot Brittain once in the neck after the teen got into the back of his truck and failed to comply with his orders to show his hands, according to the arrest affidavit. Brittain was holding a container, which family members said contained antifreeze, and no evidence of firearms was found in or near the truck, according to the affidavit.

A passenger with Brittain said he and the teen had been working on the transmission in Brittain’s truck. The passenger told investigators he never heard Davis tell the teen to show his hands.

Davis was fired by Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley in July for not turning on his body camera until after the shooting occurred. Staley said there is no footage of the shooting, only the aftermath.

Brittain was praised last year by the Rev. Al Sharpton and two attorneys representing the family of George Floyd. They said the teen’s death highlighted the need for interracial support for changes in policing. Brittain’s family and friends have regularly demonstrated outside the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, demanding more details about the shooting.

Floyd died in May 2020 when a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin the handcuffed black man’s neck to the ground. His death sparked nationwide protests over police surveillance and racial inequality.

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