A Little Rock officer who fatally shot an African-American man during a traffic stop earlier this year won’t be charged in the killing, Pulaski County prosecutors announced Friday.
Patrol Officer Charles Starks shot and killed Bradley Blackshire, 30, on Feb. 22 after pulling him over for driving a vehicle that’d been reported stolen. After ignoring several demands to get out of the car, Blackshire accelerated and struck the officer.
A loaded .45 caliber handgun was found in Blackshire’s car following the shooting, the letter states.
Starks, 31, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the incident, and was stripped of his weapon and credentials. He remains employed by the department.
An attorney for the Blackshire family said relatives were less-than-pleased with Friday’s decision and called Starks’ actions “criminal.”
“The family disagrees with the Prosecutor’s decision and we will be undeterred in our pursuit of justice,” attorney Omavi Shakur, told KATV in a statement. “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,” Shakur added.
According to the Arkansas Times, Starks joined Little Rock PD in 2013. He was issued a five-day suspension in 2016, however, after getting in a fight with another customer at a local movie theater. The year before, a driver filed a citizen’s complaint against the officer after Starks wasn’t ticketed for a crash he caused while speeding to a robbery call.
On Friday, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. called for peace in the wake of the decision, writing, “Whether or not you agree with Prosecuting Attorney Jegley’s decision, the fact remains that there is a Little Rock mother grieving the loss of her son.”
“I’ve spoken with Mr. Blackshire’s mother, prayed with her this afternoon and will continue to pray for her peace, strength, and comfort during this time of sorrow,” Scott said in a statement.
The findings of the department’s investigation, which has since concluded, are expected to be released in the coming weeks. Protests have also been planned in response to Friday’s decision.