The Little Rock Police Department and a local marketing firm have compiled a 25-minute “critical incident narrative” video of the fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire by Little Rock Police Officer Charles Starks on Feb. 22. Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley narrates the video.
Starks, 31, fatally shot Blackshire, 30, in a parking lot on the corner of West 12th Street and Rodney Parham Road. Police said Blackshire was driving a vehicle that had been reported stolen. An attorney for Blackshire’s family said on Tuesday that nothing “indicates” that Blackshire knew the car he borrowed the day of the shooting was stolen. According to initial police accounts, Starks fired on Blackshire after Blackshire accelerated and hit Starks.
The first footage of the shooting incident appears around the 7:
Neither dash videos provide clear and complete audio and video accounts of the incident, but a video from a nearby business does appear to show Blackshire’s car moving very slowly away from Starks and around Starks’ police SUV. I think it would be hard to watch that video and conclude that Blackshire was attempting to run Starks over.
Here is the LRPD’s use-of-force policy as it relates to vehicles:
Discharging firearms at a moving or fleeing vehicle is prohibited, unless it is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious physical injury to the officer or another person.
Officers will not voluntarily place themselves in a position in front of an oncoming vehicle where Deadly Force is the probable outcome. When confronted by an oncoming vehicle, officers will move out of its path, if possible, rather than fire at the vehicle.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said at a press conference at City Hall that this is the first time in state history that a department had put together a video that goes “from A to Z of what happened” surrounding the shooting death. Scott said it was now city policy to assemble such videos for all “critical incidents.” It will be up to the police chief to determine what counts as a critical incident.
In a statement, Scott said the narrative video “compiles all videos and radio traffic related to the incident. None of the videos are edited to remove critical moments from the shooting.”
Scott commended the LRPD for “working around the clock” to complete its criminal and administrative investigations in 13 days. He said normal cases of this kind take about 45 days. The Pulaski County prosecuting attorney will now determine whether to pursue criminal charges against anyone. He also said the FBI was looking into the killing on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I understand this video will be difficult to watch,” Scott said. “I know this video will invoke numerous amount of emotions.”
Scott said that he had viewed the video with the Blackshire family this morning. Asked what his emotional response to the video was, he said, “It would be irresponsible for me to talk about that right now.” He said he had prayed with the Blackshire family and was praying for Officer Starks and his family.
“I want to make certain that we stress the importance of calmness when we view this video. Our city has seen good days, bad days and even ugly days. No matter what, we’re always prepared to handle the day, and we will always push through life’s circumstances. … We’ll always be accountable, and we’ll always be clear. I ask everyone to please remain calm as this investigation carries on.”
Scott said the Design Group, which provided marketing services to his campaign, had assisted the LRPD in editing the video to ensure that it was put together as quickly as possible.
I’ve asked Omavi Shukur, attorney for the Blackshire family, for comment and will update if I hear back. At a press conference on Tuesday, the Blackshire family called for a state police investigation into the shooting. Scott said today that wouldn’t be happening because the State Police had not been involved from the initial stages.
UPDATE: Shukur provided a statement on behalf of the Blackshire family:
The video confirms our assessment that Charles Starks employed an unreasonable and excessive amount of force when he repeatedly fired into the extremely slowly moving car and then stepped in front of the car only to repeatedly shoot Mr. Blackshire again.
We look forward to learning whether the prosecutor will pursue justice and bring charges against Starks.
The family is grateful to the City for providing them with an opportunity to view the previously unavailable video and learn more about the tragic events of that day.
This post has been thoroughly updated.