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Monday, April 29, 2019

Prosecutors Say Officer Was Justified in Killing Black Man During Traffic Stop

Officer Charles Starks from Arkansas

Little Rock, AR — Charles Starks, the police officer who killed Bradley Blackshire, a Black man from Arkansas, by firing 15 shots into the car he was driving, will not face charges in connection to the shooting. Prosecutors say the officer’s use of lethal force was justified because he feared for his life.

On February 22nd, Starks pulled over Blackshire for driving a car after confirming it was stolen, according to police reports. Blackshire initially stopped. When Starks got out of the patrol car and demanded him to get out of the car, he instead continued to drive and hit him. Starks then shot him several times.

A video of the incident, which was released a month ago, shows Starks on the car’s hood firing multiple shots through its windshield as the car moved. A 20-year old woman, Desaray Clarke, was also in the car during the incident but she was not injured.

Last week, prosecutors decided to clear Charles Starks of any charges in connection to the incident. Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley said that Starks’ actions were justified because he was faced “with the imminent threat of deadly force in two forms: 1) the vehicle that was driving toward him and from which he had no duty to retreat, and 2) his reasonable belief that Mr Blackshire was going to shoot him.”

Moreover, a loaded .45 caliber gun was found in the car after the shooting. Starks also said Blackshire appeared to be reaching for something when he moved his hand to adjust the car gear.

Robert Newcomb, Starks’ lawyer, said the officer was happy with how the decision turned out. He told local media KARK, “It relieves burden on him and his family. He wishes Mr Blackshire would’ve gotten out of the car and this would have never happened

Meanwhile, Omavi Shakur, an attorney for Blackshire’s family said they were disappointed and called Starks’ actions “criminal.” He said, “The family disagrees with the Prosecutor’s decision and we will be undeterred in our pursuit of justice. We ask that the community not give the authorities any excuse to further neglect their responsibility to make amends for this devastating tragedy.”

“Retribution without justice does nothing to help us reach our ultimate goal of ensuring that no family has to experience what we are going through right now,” he added.

Mayor Frank Scott, who was the first elected African American mayor in the city, expressed his concern about the police’s use of excessive force. He also said that he had spoken to Blackshire’s mother and “prayed with her.”

Results of a Department of Justice civil rights review of the case is still pending.