A Freedom of Information Act request by blogger Russ Racop turned up a purchase order by the city of Little Rock to pay Design Group Marketing $4,990 for work on a video Mayor Frank Scott Jr. released of Police Officer Charles Starks’ fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire.
Racop is one of several activists who make frequent and sometimes extensive FOI requests of City Hall. It can be a headache. But Racop makes the point that his earlier request for information about the video had produced a response that there were no documents responsive to his request. The purchase order was dated March 21. Racop’s email in which he was told there were no documents was dated April 9. He said he received the purchase order Monday in response to another records request.
When Scott released the video — which included footage from two police cameras — he said it was the first time the department had put together a comprehensive account of a shooting. He said it would be city policy henceforth to produce such videos in “critical incidents.” UPDATE: As yet, no video has been produced of a fatal shooting by police April 21 at Shackleford Crossing. I’m awaiting an update on the status of the investigation of that shooting. UPDATE: Police expect to present their investigation of this shooting to the prosecutor by May 31. They say they expect to release video, but don’t have a time yet.
The Design Group did media work for Scott during his campaign and he later hired a Design Group employee, Stephanie Jackson, to do public relations work for him at City Hall. His campaign still has a debt, but he told me last week he was close to having sufficient money to clear the campaign account. CORRECTION: I indicated incorrectly that Design Group was among those with outstanding campaign balances. His debts remain to two consulting groups and an accounting firm, but not Design Group, which he said was paid in full by the end of the campaign.
When Scott released the video March 8 he said the Design Group had assisted the police department in producing it so that it could be done as quickly as possible. The shooting occurred Feb. 22 when Starks tried to question Blackshire about his car, which had been reported stolen. Blackshire attempted to drive away, hitting Starks, who opened fire. The prosecuting attorney has said the shooting was justified. Protests have continued. The new police chief fired Starks although other officers in the chain of command said Starks’ actions that day were justified.