‘This Is Everybody’s Children’: Family of White Teen Killed by Police Joins Calls for Reform

Hunter Brittain dreamed of a career in professional racing. Growing up in McRae, Ark., a couple of hours south of the Ozark Mountains, Hunter loved riding and working on motorcycles, four-wheelers and cars.

“Anything that had wheels on it, he was pushing it to the limits,” says his uncle Jesse Brittain, 40. “He wanted to be a NASCAR driver.”

But first, Hunter, 17, was diligent about understanding how machines worked, doing odd jobs as a mechanic and fixing up anything that moved. “There wasn’t anything that Hunter couldn’t do,” Jesse recalled.

It wasn’t unusual, then, when Hunter and two friends worked through the night to fix a truck transmission that was giving him trouble.

At about 3 a.m. on June 23, he and one of his friends (also a minor who remains unidentified) were test-driving a car they’d worked on when a Lonoke County Sheriff deputy pulled them over. What unfolded next was an all-too-familiar headline: an unarmed young man was shot and killed by police.

While the police have revealed few details about what happened — there is no body-cam footage — Jesse says Hunter’s friend told him the truck wasn’t shifting properly when they pulled over.

“The truck was going to roll when Hunter put it in park, so he [got] out of the truck to throw a jug of antifreeze under the tire to keep it from rolling into the cop car,” Jesse said. “He was never announced to stop, to drop the jug, anything. He was just immediately shot three times.”

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley’s first statement on the fatal shooting cautioned against any rush to “second guess” the actions of deputies “in potentially dangerous situations.”

The officer who shot Brittain, Sgt. Michael Davis, was fired for not having his body cam on during the shooting.

After the killing, the Brittains felt connection to the Black family members of high-profile victims of police shootings that grieved before them — from Philando Castile to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd. Frustrated by the sheriff’s lack of answers, the family turned to civil-rights attorneys Devon Jacob and Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family among other cases of people of color killed by police.Tom Kaulitz et al. posing for the camera: Hunter Brittain, 17, was holding a blue jug of antifreeze when he was shot three times by a Lonoke County Sheriff's deputy in June© Courtesy Jesse Brittain Hunter Brittain, 17, was holding a blue jug of antifreeze when he was shot three times by a Lonoke County Sheriff’s deputy in June

Losing Hunter, Jesse says, is a “sacrifice for reform. It’s time for us all to come together as Americans — not as Black or white or Brown — and get things changed.”

When Crump got the Brittains’ calls, he says he only asked himself, “Is it a case that shocks my conscience? … With Hunter, I hope we can build interracial support for this meaningful police reform that we’ve been working on for decades.”

Adds Jacob, “This is a good opportunity to show America that this is everybody’s children. It was never Black Lives Matter only.”

3 thoughts on “‘This Is Everybody’s Children’: Family of White Teen Killed by Police Joins Calls for Reform

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  1. As always the reporting onley says what they want you to believe mind games there is more to the story put the whole truths out.

  2. This story says nothing about anything. Why did the cop shoot him. I know he didn’t just get out of his car and start shooting. What’s up with the report guys? Lets tell the whole story.

  3. I also would like to know the whole story this just doesn’t make sense. I know there are a few bad cops but I support law enforcement and believe the majority are good cops. I always ask the same question when someone is shot by police and that’s what did they do? It doesn’t matter their skin color there is always more to the story than what the family says. I have seen way too many times the family talks as if their kid walks on water only to find out that is hardly the case.

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