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.
Officer Charles Starks investigative fileView
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.