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story.lead_photo.caption A frame grab from Little Rock police dash cam video shows Officer Charles Starks being escorted from the scene of a deadly police shooting on Feb. 22.

The Little Rock Police Department released its investigative report into a police officer who fatally shot 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire during a Feb. 22 traffic stop, with documents showing the officer telling investigators he “blacked out” and couldn’t remember key parts of the shooting.

The documents obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Thursday come days after prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Officer Charles Starks, who repeatedly shot his gun into Blackshire’s car during a traffic stop near West 12th Street and South Rodney Parham Road.

Prosecutors on Friday cleared Starks of any criminal charges, affirming his use of force was justified because Blackshire accelerated toward the officer.

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Officer Charles Starks investigative file

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Video released weeks ahead of the decision shows Starks firing at least 15 times into the car, including while the car continued to move as Starks lay on the hood, still shooting.

Blackshire died at the scene.

Investigative files containing interviews with Starks after the shooting state he recalled the vehicle striking his leg, and Starks acknowledged the car wasn’t accelerating violently before he began shooting.

He could not recall when or how he ended up on Blackshire’s car, but said he felt he was going to be run over and killed.

“Officer Starks stated there was a period of time he did not remember or had blacked out,” the report said.

Footage of the encounter captured from multiple sources shows Starks pull up to Blackshire and repeatedly order him out of the car.

Starks can be heard saying “get out of the car, dude” and speaking into his radio telling dispatchers he had Blackshire at gunpoint as he ordered the man to show his hands.

Blackshire can be heard asking what he did before saying: “What are you gonna shoot me for?”

Starks begins shooting as the car moves toward him, the dash camera video shows.

“I was absolutely convinced in that moment that that’s how I was gonna die,” Starks said in an interview with detectives.

Video captured from another officer -- identified as Michael Simpson -- shows him speed into the parking lot and hit Blackshire’s car, while Starks continues firing on the car’s hood.

Investigators noted 13 bullet holes in the front windshield and on the hood of the Nissan Altima. Another bullet hit a nearby car.

Starks was treated and released from the hospital on the same day.

Police have said officers stopped Blackshire after the rental Nissan he was driving was flagged as being stolen.

His passenger, 21-year-old Desaray Clarke, told officers Blackshire had a gun after she was handcuffed, and Blackshire had been reaching into his pocket before Starks fired, documents show.

Police recovered a handgun in the car Blackshire was in, reports show. The report shows the gun police recovered was in “plain view” on the passenger side front floorboard with a bullet in the chamber.

The state Crime Lab registered the gun as being stolen.

A witness told investigators Blackshire and another person had been smoking drugs before the shooting, and investigators found a white powdery substance and a rolled up bill in the car.

The Crime Lab’s report said the powder didn’t test positive for cocaine, and medical files within the report were sealed.

The heavily redacted investigative file reviewed by the Democrat-Gazette contains hundreds of pages of reports, interviews and forensic testing that were forwarded to the prosecutor's office.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley declined to criminally charge Starks, saying in a letter Friday that “the use of deadly force by Mr. Blackshire was as imminent as a stepped on accelerator and no different from a pulled trigger."

Disciplinary reports show Starks had several complaints lodged against him that led to more than two week’s worth of suspensions.

In 2016, Starks was suspended for 10 days without pay after getting into a fight at a movie theater and failing to identify himself as a police officer, according to a suspension letter.

A superior officer recommended Starks be fired, citing the fight and other past employment issues, and writing in a report that “he has been a difficult employee to manage” and “seems to gravitate toward conflict.”

The department relieved Starks of police duty days after the shooting, stripping him of his badge and gun and the ability to do any police work.

He has remained on the city’s payroll for the duration of the investigation.

The shooting and decision to later not charge Starks have prompted a handful of demonstrations around the city calling for Starks to be fired and charged in Blackshire's death.

Following the completion of an internal review of Starks' actions, which will determine whether he violated any departmental policies, Chief Keith Humphrey will decide whether to take any disciplinary action.

Blackshire’s family and supporters have rallied multiple times, demanding the swift release of dash camera video of the shooting, as well as Starks' prosecution.

The shooting has renewed policy pushes for officer body cameras and a citizen review board to oversee the police department.

Both are efforts Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has previously pledged to enact.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting a civil rights review of the shooting. A timetable hasn’t been set for the completion of that review.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated who will decide on potential disciplinary action in Starks' case. Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey will make that decision.

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Comments

  • Packman
    April 25, 2019 at 11:53 a.m.

    If true, the officer needs to be fired IMMEDIATELY! A law enforcement officer that admits to blacking out while under intense stress is a public threat. Starks must NEVER again work as a law enforcement officer.

  • LR1955
    April 25, 2019 at 12:22 p.m.

    There are desk jobs with the LRPD Packman.
    Then again, I’ve read many crime/trial reports in the ArDemGaz where the accused stated they “blacked-out” and don’t remember.

  • NoUserName
    April 25, 2019 at 12:40 p.m.

    Or, it's possible he understands the public pressure surrounding the incident and is protecting himself.

  • GandKW
    April 25, 2019 at 12:55 p.m.

    Fight or flight behavior.

  • scott08051345
    April 25, 2019 at 1:18 p.m.

    In most cases I'm on the side of the police, but in this case, this officer totally overreacted resulting in this guys death. I don't care of the guy in the car was guilty or not, the cop can't be the executioner. The suspect was slowly pulling away, he was not pulling away aggressively; furthermore, the officer was to the side of the vehicle and was not going to be struck. The officer began firing (2 to 3 shots) into the vehicle while still to the side of the car, he then stepped into the path of the vehicle and fired 12 or 13 more shots from the hood of the vehicle. At 2:36 the officer was heard saying "he hit me", he clearly was not hit before he began firing. I'm a very conservative libertarian, if your wrong I think you should pay for your crime. In this case, the officer was clearly wrong and I was shocked that Larry Jegley let him get away with this. Again, I'm pro police but in this case the cop messed up and the prosecuting attorney's office gave the officer a pass. I'm extremely disappointed in the prosecuting attorney.

  • MBAIV
    April 25, 2019 at 1:20 p.m.

    Look into the extreme tunnel vision and other adrenaline driven reactions. Not unusual for someone in his situation to have trouble remembering the exact incident. "Blackout" is just a term to describe the lack of clarity of memory. It doesn't mean he passed out.
    .
    The video/audio tells the tale. Blackshire was 100% wrong. Just because Starks doesn't have exact recollection of the event doesn't change what happened. The criminal was stupid and died as a result of his actions.

  • mrcharles
    April 25, 2019 at 1:41 p.m.

    A suggestion would be to be evaluated by professionals, not biased talking primates. Then decide if he can handle the job. All servicemen with ptsd are incapable of working or dealing with life , unless the severity is there. yet sea bass may be kinda right [ joke] with past suspensions there may be that he just isnt up to snuff to be a cop. In his defense dont think this latest circumstance, though could have been handled better , violates the general rules dealing with such a situation.

    a voice from beyond the ural moutains, a utopia.

    Could he not say this was a joke, or a slip of the tongue, or other common used explanations by those up there.

  • blueovalz
    April 25, 2019 at 1:43 p.m.

    Another example of if this was anybody...ANYBODY else but a police officer, regardless if they "felt" threatened, would be in jail today. I'm guessing now that we are hiring pussies in the police department that become frightened for their life so quickly, they shoot first, even when unnecessary. Yes, we all want to support our "heroic" police, but heroism is no where in this situation, and blind support for this is unwarranted (even by the infamous police union). Seems any more, a LEO doesn't understand, or chooses to ignore, how the use of deadly force is different for those that challenge their authority, and those that actually put the officer at risk. Take their gun or badge away from half the officers on the force, and you'd have someone who couldn't integrate well in normal society or hold a normal job. Take away their authority and they would shrivel up to nothing.

  • Seitan
    April 25, 2019 at 1:51 p.m.

    OH. this is not good for anyone...

  • Kbdp660
    April 25, 2019 at 1:52 p.m.

    The officer was stopping a stolen car. The suspect decided he would not cooperate. Oh, and he also had a gun in the car with him! It is tragic for a young man to have died, and there is no doubt his family and friends are inconsolable. After watching both videos, I have no doubt the police officer suffered from shock, which can affect memories. No policeman wakes up any morning, thinking this sort of thing would happen. But if a police officer instructs a suspect to “Get out of the car”, over and over, the suspect sealed his fate by refusing to follow those instructions, and placing his foot on the gas.

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