Officials in Little Rock, Ar., have released video footage of a February incident in which a police officer fired 15 rounds into the windshield of a stolen vehicle while lying on the hood of the car. The driver of the vehicle died at the scene while the officer sustained minor injuries.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said in a press conference that releasing the footage “is not intended to jeopardize the criminal investigation or the administrative investigation.” Rather, the video was released in an effort to be “accountable, clear, and transparent to the people of Little Rock.”
Local media reported last week that Officer Charles Starks had stopped 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire for being suspected of driving a stolen car. In the video, Starks can be heard ordering Blackshire at gunpoint to show his hands and step out of the vehicle.
“What’d I do?” Blackshire asks.
“Get out! I’ll explain to you in a second,” Starks responds.
Starks repeats his order, but Blackshire continues to refuse.
“I mean, what you gonna shoot me for?” he asks. “I ain’t got…”
Blackshire flatly refuses to get out of the car, and Starks can be heard speaking into his radio, “He’s refusing to get out of the car.”
The dashcam video appears to show Blackshire pull his car forward as Starks leans sideways to intercept the vehicle while firing his sidearm. But a different camera angle from a nearby business shows Blackshire turn his vehicle towards Starks while the officer moves in front of the vehicle.
Starks fires four shots while moving from the side of the vehicle to stand in front of it. Once in front, he leans on the hood of the car and fires an additional 11 shots while the car continues to move forward.
Another police cruiser pulls into the parking lot while Starks is lying on the hood of the car and slams into the vehicle. It comes to a stop just a few yards from where it began, and the driver of the second police cruiser exits with a drawn sidearm.
Officer Starks moves to the other side of the stolen car and removes the passenger, later identified as 20-year-old Desaray Clarke, while the second officer, Michael Simpson, tries to remove Blackshire.
Clarke tells Starks that Blackshire has a gun, and Starks repeats that information to Simpson while the officer yells at Blackshire to “put your hands up!”
The officers call emergency medical services while other law enforcement vehicles arrive at the scene.
Starks joined the department in 2013 and has been reprimanded 10 times since 2015 for two vehicle crashes, two internal investigations, one citizen complaint and five divisional issues, according to local media. He was relieved of duty following this incident, and the case has been referred to the Pulaski County prosecutor to determine if criminal charges will be filed.
Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement that Starks deserves due process and that the public should withhold judgment until the investigation is complete. They also noted that the incident could have been avoided if Blackshire had complied with Starks’ initial order.
Blackshire’s family were among those calling for the public release of the video footage and said in a statement release by their attorney, “The video confirms our assessment that Charles Starks employed an unreasonable and excessive amount of force.”
Full Video Released by Little Rock Authorities