Bradley Blackshire was killed because Little Rock police almost never punish officers for shooting into moving cars, a federal lawsuit filed on Monday by his mother claims.
Kim Blackshire-Lee sued Charles Starks; the since-fired police officer who fatally shot her son; Michael Simpson, the first officer to arrive after Blackshire was shot; and the city of Little Rock.
The complaint alleges the federal civil-rights violations of excessive deadly force and failure to provide medical care, as well as violations of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and state law -- including assault and battery, wrongful death, pain and suffering and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
"This shooting has caused residents of the city of Little Rock to experience a grim case of deja vu. The Little Rock Police Department has a history of its officers shooting young men like Mr. Blackshire, including young black men sitting behind the wheels of cars that did not pose a threat to the shooting officers," the lawsuit states. "These officers are protected and emboldened by a culture of impunity within the department, a culture in which combative behavior and excessive force too often go unpunished, a culture of impunity that begot the unjustified death of Mr. Blackshire."
Bradley Blackshire was shot by Starks in a Feb. 22 encounter in a parking lot near the McDonald's restaurant at West 12th Street and South Rodney Parham Road.
Blackshire Family LawsuitView
Told that a license-plate reader had captured the license number of a reportedly stolen car, Starks found the car in the parking lot, with Blackshire, a 30-year-old father of five, behind the wheel. He ordered Blackshire to stop the vehicle and submit to arrest. Instead, Blackshire, a felon awaiting trial on drug charges, refused. He drove slowly forward, jolting Starks on the hip then knocking the officer off his feet when Starks moved in front of the car.
A woman passenger was unharmed, and police found a stolen pistol in the car. A police report indicates that the pickup of passing motorist Moises Solis, 39, of Little Rock, might have been hit by a stray bullet fired by Starks.
Starks was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by prosecutors but fired by Police Chief Keith Humphrey for violating department policy by putting himself in front of a moving vehicle. Starks is appealing the decision to the city's Civil Service Commission with a hearing scheduled for next month.
Blackshire-Lee, 52, of Little Rock, is requesting a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson to determine compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by attorney Omavi Shukur with the Chicago-based Loevy & Loevy law firm. Shukur is a former Little Rock lawyer and is a protege of civil-rights attorney and Arkansas legislator John Walker.
The suit describes eight occasions that Little Rock police have shot people in cars between 2005 and 2017, four of those instances killing someone. Police policy prohibits officers from firing into a moving vehicle unless the officer or someone else is in immediate danger, but the department "rarely, if ever, punishes officers for violating this policy," the lawsuit states.
The suit also faults a police procedure of "barricading" suspects who are in cars, describing the tactic as "almost guaranteed" to result in a police shooting.
"The city's failure to implement the obviously needed policy changes, disciplinary measures and supplemental training resulted in the unjustified and preventable killing of Mr. Blackshire," the lawsuit states.
The suit describes both Starks and Simpson as doing nothing to help the grievously wounded Blackshire while waiting too long -- five minutes, according to the lawsuit -- to get emergency medical attention for him. The ambulance did not arrive until 10 minutes after Starks' final shot, the complaint states.
Blackshire had borrowed the car about an hour before encountering Starks, did not know it had been reported stolen and was not aware that police were after him that day, according to the suit.
Metro on 06/11/2019
Print Headline: Mother sues ex-Little Rock officer, city over son's shooting death