Little Rock, AR — A deeply disturbing video was released last March 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 has hit barrier after barrier. In April, it was announced that this cop would face no charges for murdering Bradley Blackshire, 30, but he was still fired. Now, however, he’s getting his job back.
According to KATV, “Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Thursday ordered the police department to reinstate Charles Starks and retroactively suspend Starks 30 days without pay. He also ordered Starks’ salary to be reduced to that of an entry-level officer.”
Fox went on to call the act of jumping on the hood of a car and firing 15 rounds through the windshield, “reasonable.”
Starks’ actions, under Arkansas law, “were those of a reasonable certified law enforcement officer … in an emergency situation,” the court said. After calling the act reasonable, Fox then went on to call many of the steps during the act, “illogical.”
Starks “intentionally and voluntarily parked his patrol car where it only partially blocked the stolen vehicle,” which allowed Blackshire to drive forward. Starks also parked his patrol car “in a configuration where he then had to walk across the front” of the parked vehicle Blackshire was in, Fox wrote.
“If such matter were within the scope of this court’s review, it would be this court’s opinion that as a matter of law, based on the testimony and evidence submitted, Appellant Starks did not commit any violations of criminal law with respect to his actions in this incident,” Fox wrote.
This decision comes after Starks appealed his firing in Pulaski County Circuit Court and was denied in September. In September, Blackshire’s family celebrated the decision not to rehire this killer cop. This decision must feel like a kick in the teeth.
As we reported at the time, Blackshire was not armed.
On the morning of February 22, Blackshire 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. 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.”
According to Arkansas Online, Starks 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.
Now, this cop who jumped on the hood of a moving car and killed her son, will be back on the streets to strike again.