Little Rock, AR — A deeply disturbing video was released last month showing a cowboy cop, Officer Charles Starks jump on the hood of an man’s car and dump 15 rounds into him—instantly killing him. The family of the victim has been trying to expose the unnecessary nature of this shooting. But their fight just hit a major barrier as the cop responsible for murdering their beloved family member will not be charged.
According to KATV, “prosecutors said Friday that they had reviewed the case and determined that Starks was justified in the killing. The decision was detailed in a four-page letter from Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley to Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey.”
The letter says Starks was “confronted with the imminent threat of deadly force” in two ways, one of which was the vehicle traveling toward him. The second was a “reasonable belief” that Blackshire, who he believed to be armed, was going to shoot him.
Blackshire was not armed.
On the morning of February 22, Bradley Blackshire, 30, was driving a black Nissan Altima with his friend 20-year-old Desaray Clarke when they were approached by police. Officer Stark responded to the couple for allegedly driving a stolen vehicle after a stationary license plate scanner picked up the plates as stolen.
Whether or not the vehicle was actually stolen by Blackshire remains unclear as police have not released any details in regards to the case. They did, however, release multiple videos of the incident which show how unnecessary the use of deadly force was in this situation.
As the videos—taken from multiple locations—show, Blackshire backs the car into a parking spot and is then quickly approached by Starks, who has his pistol aimed at him.
“I’ve got him at gunpoint,” Starks says after Blackshire had backed into a parking spot. “Dude get out of the car!”
“What did I do?” Blackshire asks.
For some reason, Blackshire did not get out of the car and this decision would eventually cost him his life. But it shouldn’t have.
“What are you gonna shoot me for?” Blackshire asks. “I ain’t got nothing.”
Blackshire then makes the terrible decision to try to drive off. However, he does not stomp the gas or try to run the officer over. He simply and slowly tries to pull around the police cruiser.
According to Starks, however, Blackshire accelerated toward the officer and was an imminent threat. But this is not evident in any of the videos.
As the black Nissan inches forward, moving only a couple of feet at a snails pace, instead of moving to the side—which is likely protocol—Starks began shooting. The shots made the situation that much more dangerous as after he was shot, Blackshire’s foot appeared to slip off the brake and the car kept moving forward.
Again, instead of simply taking one step to the side, Starks jumps on the hood like a cowboy and continues firing 12 more rounds into Blackshire. A total of 15 rounds were dumped into this young man whose life was ended for inching a car forward.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” this cowboy cop yells as he kept dumping rounds into the body of Blackshire.
The shots to stop Blackshire’s car proved entirely futile because a dead man can’t drive a car, so it continued moving forward, rolling into a fence. Luckily, it did not roll into traffic or hit an innocent bystander.
While the car didn’t hit anyone, according to police, at least one of Starks’ rounds did. A car that was driving by the scene was hit by one of Starks’ bullets. Luckily, the driver was not.
After Starks dumped 15 rounds into Blackshire, you can hear the cops yelling at his dead body to “get your f*cking hands up!” and “don’t f*cking move!”
Blackshire could not respond to the commands and was pronounced dead on the scene. None of the other officers felt it necessary to open fire.
“He hit me,” Starks says implying that the car—which was inching forward less than 1mph—was a threat and he couldn’t have simply stayed stepped to the side. Instead, he shot three times and then jumped in front of the car.
“If somebody comes to the car and puts a gun in your face, you want to ask, ‘Do you have probable cause?'” Dawn Jeffrey, the director of community relations for Seeds of Liberation, a Little Rock community organization that helps people recently released from prison re-acclimate to society said, saying Blackshire asked Starks multiple times why he was being stopped. “I don’t understand how people are trying to make this make sense.”
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. released a statement saying, “Whether or not you agree with Prosecuting Attorney Jegley’s decision, the fact remains that there is a Little Rock mother grieving the loss of her son.”
He also encouraged Little Rock citizens to remain peaceful.
Omavi Shakur, Attorney for the Blackshire family released a statement to KATV saying “Charles Starks’s actions were criminal. The family disagrees with the Prosecutor’s decision and we will be undeterred in our pursuit of justice. We ask that the community not give the authorities any excuse to further neglect their responsibility to make amends for this devastating tragedy. Let us be constructive in the wake of Starks’s destructive actions. We seek justice, not retribution. Retribution without justice does nothing to help us reach our ultimate goal of ensuring that no family has to experience what we are going through right now.”
According to Arkansas Online, Starks, who has been suspended with pay, has a history of misconduct:
Disciplinary records showed Starks has been reprimanded 10 times since 2015, leading to nearly a month’s worth of suspension. The incidents included two vehicle crashes, two internal investigations, one citizen complaint and five divisional issues.
A commanding officer wrote in a 2016 memo that he felt the department should terminate Starks after he got into a fight with a person inside of a movie theater and didn’t identify himself as law enforcement.
“You took my baby, you took my only son. He’s not going to have a chance to tell his story, but we are going to make sure his story gets out,” Blackshire’s mother, Kim said.
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