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Video released from deadly Little Rock police shooting; officer relieved of duty last week

by Clara Turnage, Youssef Rddad | March 7, 2019 at 3:43 p.m. | Updated March 7, 2019 at 6:03 p.m.

Authorities in Little Rock released video Thursday of a fatal police shooting of a 30-year-old motorist during a traffic stop last month, with footage from multiple angles showing the officer fired shots into a moving car while lying on its hood.

The video — which shows Officer Charles Starks stopping and later shooting Bradley Blackshire the morning of Feb. 22 — was released Thursday afternoon following a groundswell of calls from family and community members for its swift release.

Blackshire was suspected of driving a stolen car near 12th Street and Rodney Parham Road.

Police initially said Starks began firing when Blackshire accelerated at the officer and hit him.

Video of the encounter captured from multiple sources, including police squad cars and surveillance cameras, shows Starks park and immediately tell Blackshire to show his hands.

Starks is heard talking into his radio saying “I’ve got him at gunpoint” as he tells Blackshire to show his hands and to roll down his window while yelling “Dude, get out of the car!”

Blackshire can be heard asking what he did and then asking Starks: “What are you gonna shoot me for?”

The video shows the Black Nissan Blackshire drove inch forward slowly and then pause briefly before Starks starts shooting, 36 seconds after he first encountered Blackshire.

Multiple angles show a second officer, identified as Michael Simpson, racing into the parking lot and hitting Blackshire’s car as Starks lies on the hood and yells “shots fired” into his radio while still shooting.

The video shows Starks fall to the ground as the Nissan continues to move forward.

Another angle of the encounter shows the car rolling into a fence as officers yell “get your (expletive) hands up!" and "don’t (expletive) move!”

Full Little Rock Police Department video with all angles

Police can be heard telling Blackshire’s passenger, 20-year-old Desaray Clarke, they are going to handcuff her after she calmly asks if she can get out of the car.

Blackshire was pronounced dead at the scene.

Starks shoots 15 times before stopping, and Simpson doesn’t appear to shoot after drawing his gun.

Police said that Starks was treated for his injuries and released from a hospital the same day. He said in the video that he thought he strained his knee.

Starks, who joined the department in 2013, turned in his badge and gun when the department relieved him of duty last week. The designation stripped Starks of any ability to do police work, and observers have said the move indicates potential concerns about what happened or the officer’s actions.

Starks is still on the department’s payroll.

Five of the past six officers stripped of their badge and gun since 2009 — the latest available public data — were arrested shortly after for various reasons.

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.

The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police defended Starks last week, saying that he deserves due process and that the community should reserve judgment until the investigation concludes. The union said in a statement that the shooting could have been avoided if Blackshire complied with Stark’s commands and showed him his hands.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the police department's investigation was sent to the county prosecutor for review of possible criminal charges.

The Pulaski County attorney’s office confirmed it received the investigation file Thursday afternoon.

Scott previously said the city would release video of the shooting “as soon as possible,” and on Wednesday he announced it would be made available after Blackshire’s family viewed it.

The family called for the release of the video and a state police investigation into what happened, a day after Blackshire's funeral was held on Saturday.

Scott called the shooting investigation a “trying time” for both Blackshire’s and Starks’ families.

Speaking before the video's release, he said the footage will be "difficult to watch" and urged for calm as the investigation continued.

"I understand this incident will invoke numerous amounts of emotion," the mayor said, adding: "Our city has seen good days, bad days and even ugly days."

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

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