Lonoke, AR — Family and friends of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain have been protesting nearly a week and demanding answers from police after an officer shot and killed him as he worked on his truck. So far, the police have remained tight-lipped and have refused to release any details. Brittain's friend, however, who was with him the morning he was killed, is speaking up — and his words describe what appears to be a blatant act of murder.
On the morning he was killed, Brittain and his friend Jordan King, 16, were working on his truck's transmission so Brittain could drive to work later that morning. Brittain's boss, Scott Hundley, who owns Hundley Construction, confirmed to KATV that he spoke with Brittain the night before to line up a ride to work if Brittain couldn't get his truck fixed.
“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.”
But thanks to Lonoke County sheriff's Sgt. Michael Davis, Brittain would not make it to work the next morning. And, according to King, it's because Davis murdered him.
King spoke to KATV off camera and detailed how the situation unfolded. He told reporters that he and Brittain had worked through the night to fix Brittain's truck and after they finally got it running they took it on a test drive around 3:00 a.m.
According to King, while on their test drive, Davis pulled them over about a mile from the shop where Brittain was working on his truck. The shop, Mahoney's Body Shop, according to King is owned by a friend of their family and they had permission to be there to fix Brittain's truck.
King said Davis pulled them over on Arkansas Highway 89 and within just a few minutes, Brittain would be killed.
As KATV reports, King said Brittain's truck wouldn’t go into park, so Brittain got out to grab a blue oil jug to put behind his truck’s tires and stop it from hitting Davis' car. According to King, Davis then fired without telling Brittain to stop or get on the ground.
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“They didn’t say one word that I know of. I didn’t hear it and it happened so fast,” King said.
King said after other deputies showed up, he was then handcuffed and forced into the back of a police cruiser for hours as he watched his friend bleed out on the pavement in front of 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 he told deputies that he had no idea why Davis killed Brittain as he had no weapon and wasn't doing anything wrong.
Adding to the suspect nature of the killing is the fact that Davis was wearing a body camera, but Lonoke County Sheriff's department won't confirm whether or not it was even recording.
“Sadly, on social media, some people are demanding I take action without waiting for evidence. That’s irresponsible, and I won’t do it," Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley told protesters outside his department last week. "There’s a lot of misinformation on social media. Don’t believe it. Let’s all wait until the facts are confirmed."
But family members aren't buying it.
“I am not a vengeful person, but this police officer doesn’t need to be a police officer,” Rebecca 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.”