Court Reinstates Fired Officer, But City Refuses To Give Back His Gun And Badge

Holly Matkin

The Little Rock Police Department has allegedly failed to abide by a court order to reinstate a fired officer.

Little Rock, AR – The Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) has failed to abide by a court order to reinstate a fired officer, resulting in the officer’s attorney filing a motion for contempt.

The motion, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Friday, urged the court to hold Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. in contempt for refusing to return LRPD Officer Charles Starks’ gun and badge, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

Although he was court-ordered to be returned to duty, the department placed him on “relieved of duty” status, which is generally utilized for officers who are under investigation or facing disciplinary action, KATV reported.

"What bothers me about it is that the chief of police and the mayor want officer Starks to be unarmed," said Officer Starks’ attorney, Robert Newcomb. “As far as I'm concerned, if something happens to officer Starks, that's the mayor's fault and the chief's fault."

The move also prevents Officer Starks, 32, from being able to work off-duty law enforcement jobs, financially penalizing him as much as $20,000 per year, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

The motion asked the court to fine the mayor and police chief $500 per day until Officer Starks is returned to “normal” duties, according to KATV.

“I am not asking that to come out of the taxpayers’ pocket,” Newcomb told the news outlet. “I am asking the chief any mayor to personally pay it until they pay the court order.”

If found in contempt, Scott and Chief Humphrey could also be hit with jail time, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

The matter is scheduled to go before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Tuesday.

On Jan. 1, Fox reversed the Little Rock Civil Service Commission’s ruling that upheld the termination of Officer Starks despite the fact that the fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire had already been ruled justified, KTHV reported.

The court found that Starks’ 30-day suspension and a salary reduction were the only appropriate punishment and ruled there could be no more penalties assigned to Officer Starks.

"The court has determined the 30-day suspension and the reduction in salary to that of an entry level officer are sufficient sanctions for Appellant Starks' violation of Little Rock Police Department General Order 303.II.E.2," the court ruling said.

The judge also ordered that Officer Starks should get back pay, at the lesser rate, and reimbursement or payment for all benefits from the time of his termination to his reinstatement, KTHV reported.

Officer Starks’ attorney, Robert Newcomb, said his client was happy to be returning to the police force, KTHV reported.

"He gets to go back and get his job which he is happy about. He's going back as an entry level employee, and I understand that," Newcomb said. "I hope that the city allows him to go back and does not appeal this. It heads off to the Court of Appeals now. That's the way the state has set up the process."

The fatal encounter occurred on Feb. 22, after Officer Starks spotted 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire driving a stolen vehicle in the area of Rodney Parham Road and West 12th Street, KATV reported at the time.

Blackshire backed into a parking place in a nearby lot, at which point Officer Starks drove up in his marked patrol vehicle with his lights activated, according to the Associated Press.

The officer drew his weapon, approached Blackshire’s driver’s side window, and ordered him to show his hands.

He then ordered Blackshire to get out of the vehicle multiple times, dashcam footage showed.

“What did I do?” Blackshire asked, refusing to get out of the car. “What are you going to shoot me for?”

“Get out of the car!” Officer Starks said repeatedly.

“No,” the suspect responded, just before he started driving the stolen vehicle towards the officer.

Officer Starks moved backwards and continued to issue commands, but Blackshire proceeded to drive into him.

The officer fired several rounds, at which point the car continued to move forwards, knocking Officer Starks onto the hood.

The officer fired multiple rounds at the driver through the windshield as the car carried him across the parking lot.

A second patrol car then pulled up, and collided with the passenger side of the stolen vehicle.

Officer Starks tumbled from the hood, and both officers converged on the driver.

“Put your f--king hands up!” the second officer ordered repeatedly.

But Blackshire accelerated again, sending the vehicle into a grassy area at the far end of the lot, where it crashed into something off-camera and came to rest near a tree.

“Hey, can I jump out?” a female passenger in the suspect vehicle asked the officers.

The woman climbed out of the passenger side window, then said something to one of the officers.

“She said he’s got a gun!” Officer Starks yelled out.

The officers repeatedly ordered Blackshire to show his hands and radioed for an ambulance.

Blackshire died at the scene, Little Rock Interim Police Chief Wayne Bewley said, according to the Associated Press.

Officer Starks suffered an injury to his right leg, and the female passenger in the stolen car was uninjured.

In April of 2019, Officer Starks was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the fatal officer-involved shooting, KATV reported.

Chief Humphrey went against the recommendations of four police supervisors who reviewed the case, and fired Officer Starks on May 6.

In the letter of termination, Chief Humphrey alleged that Officer Starks violated the department’s use-of-force policy by not moving out of the path of the suspect’s vehicle as it was moving towards him.

"When confronted by an oncoming vehicle, officers will move out of its path, if possible, rather than fire at the vehicle," the policy read, according to KATV.

Little Rock Assistant Chief Hayward Finks was one of the senior officers who reviewed the incident.

"I do not believe that Officer Starks intentionally nor voluntarily stepped in front of the vehicle driven by [the suspect],” Assistant Chief Finks wrote in a letter documenting his findings.

The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) also expressed its strong disagreement with Officer Starks’ termination.

"Officers are required to make split second decisions and today’s decision has the potential to make officers hesitate in their actions, which could prove detrimental to the citizens of Little Rock and the officers themselves," the FOP said.

Comments (53)
No. 1-19
RetiredCorrections
RetiredCorrections

Hopefully he will win

Hi_estCommieDenom
Hi_estCommieDenom

This Officer should have been reinstated immediately. I hope the Court rules that this (poor excuse for a) Chief has to pay until he’s reinstated

Hi_estCommieDenom
Hi_estCommieDenom

Starks should have been reinstated immediately. I hope the court rules this (poor excuse for a) Chief has to pay out of his pocket, until he follows the LAW.

Jt1984
Jt1984

City fined 10,000 a day and if not done Chief turns in his badge and gun per judge.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

Why did they give this obvious case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome a gun in the first place? Impaired decision making, droopy eyelids...

BlueJDN
BlueJDN

Forget fines. Throw their butts in jail until they agree to comply. If they refuse, let them rot.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Seven prior mugshots for Bradley Jamal Blackshire, 30, here:

Charges include resisting while carrying a prohibited firearm, trespass, probation violation, contempt, drug possession, simultaneous drug and firearm possession by a felon, and failure to provide child support.

Cop Watch
Cop Watch

“I am not asking that to come out of the taxpayers’ pocket,” Newcomb told the news outlet. “I am asking the chief any mayor to personally pay it until they obey the court order.”

when cops start paying out of there own pocket then maybe you can say something, until then fuck off! if the chief and mayor feel that you shouldn't have a gun and badge, that is too bad! it is obvious they don't want this POS to have a gun at work endangering the public! this POS got his job back and is still crying because he can't have a gun or work other jobs. this POS needs to except permanent vacation until retirement or go somewhere else!

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

#unsafetactics

bronx163
bronx163

Sue the Chief, the Department, and the Town. And go on patrol and just take reports. Reactive policing. Let the town implode c

DocCop
DocCop

He has his gun and badge, but judge said that as long as he gets a paycheck and has his creds the city doesn’t have to put him back to work. So Starks can get his pay and work extra jobs all he wants.

ElleD
ElleD

Re-instate the officer. Fire the chief and mayor.

bryantrent
bryantrent

BS

Reppoc1
Reppoc1

Little Rock has become a shithole. One of the worst for crime for a city of it's size! And the mayor and chief talked big shit to get their jobs. But have done NOTHING since! I pack everytime I have to go there for anything! Lot of "stop the violence" campaigns! Lol...yea... those work!

Stanracer
Stanracer

Wait.....what?

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

If any of you want to feel better about this story:

police departments (and police officers) typically HATE-HATE-HATE it when courts issue injunctions that tell a police department how to run itself -- even if the court has found massive Constitutional violations, malfeasance or the like.

The Little Rock police department is making it clear who is in charge here -- and, as usual, it isn't really the courts.

If you want the spirit of the court decisions to be easily enforceable against police departments, then I would caution you: careful what you wish for -- you may get it and not like it.

jarhead24
jarhead24

The Officer is safe and the EVIL CRIMINAL is taking a dirt nap.
Crime Prevention in action. Think how many future felonies will not be committed by this vulture.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Some have expressed fear that Starks would be back on the street, but his attorney said he didn't think his client would become a beat cop anytime soon.

"They can put him in training. They can put him in accreditation. They can put him in the wellness unit," Newcomb said. "He just wants to do any job that a police officer regularly performs."


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