LONOKE COUNTY, Ark. – The Lonoke County sheriff has released a video statement addressing the deputy-involved shooting that happened early Wednesday that left a 17-year-old dead.

Sheriff John Staley said he had prayed with the family of Hunter Brittain and that he wants to “know exactly what happened” in the shooting.

Staley said he immediately requested the support of the Arkansas State Police to handle the investigation, so there would be “full transparency and accountability.”

Staley said his local investigators are not involved in the inquiry and said neither he nor his department know just what evidence like body camera footage shows.

He did say, though, that he was “committed to transparency” and pledged to support release of whatever body camera footage there is from the incident, when “the law and the State Police investigation allow it.“

See his full statement below:

“Yesterday, a 17-year-old tragically lost his life after being shot by a deputy during a 3AM traffic stop. I prayed with his family and friends last night. Like everyone, I want to know exactly what happened. But – because I also want full transparency and accountability — I immediately asked the State Police to handle the investigation. They are an independent agency. We will fully cooperate with them.

State Police are gathering the facts and they know much more than I do. We immediately gave them body camera footage. Because we aren’t handling the investigation, we don’t know how much of the incident was captured by the camera. As Sheriff, I’m committed to transparency. That’s why I will support the public release of body camera footage when the law and the State Police investigation allow it. 

In potentially dangerous situations, deputies often are forced to make split-second decisions. Second-guessing those decisions – especially when the facts are still unclear – is dangerous and unfair. We all want the truth. We all want justice. But I humbly ask everyone to avoid rushing to judgment until the investigation is over.

Sadly, on social media, some people are demanding I take action without waiting for any evidence. That’s irresponsible and I won’t do it. I also know there’s a lot of misinformation on social media and the internet. Don’t believe it. Let’s all wait until the facts are confirmed. Here’s my promise to the people of this county: Any of my deputies who violates the law — or my policies — will be held accountable. I will hold them accountable. For now, let’s allow the investigation to continue.

Thank you and God Bless.”

Sheriff John Staley