On the steps of City Hall on Wednesday morning, Kimberly Blackshire-Lee, mother of Bradley Blackshire, who was shot and killed by former Little Rock Police Department officer Charles Starks during a traffic stop in February, told reporters she and other supporters of Blackshire had gathered over 2,000 signatures on a petition supporting Chief of Police Keith Humphrey’s decision in May to terminate Starks’ employment with the LRPD. The family said it planned to submit the petition to the Civil Service Commission.
The submission of the petition comes just a day before Starks’ appeal of his termination before the Civil Service Commission, which begins an appeal hearing 8 a.m. Thursday at City Hall.
“We started this petition a little over three weeks ago, and it was to show support of Chief Humphrey and our Mayor [Frank] Scott [Jr.], just to say that we supported as a family their decision to fire Charles Starks, and to see what the community thought about having him reinstated as an office,” Blackshire-Lee said. “During the process, I heard some very interesting things from our community. They had very little awareness of the fact that there was actually a process, once an individual was fired from a position such as that, that they could actually be reinstated as an officer. I think the community is speaking out, and the community has some concerns. They are behind Chief Humphrey as well as Mayor Scott in their decision to fire this officer, and so is my family.”
Blackshire-Lee said family and supporters of Bradley Blackshire got physical signatures from people in the Little Rock community, and it also received signatures online.
Rizelle Aaron, former president of the Arkansas NAACP and Bradley Blackshire’s uncle, said the “objective” of the petition is to show there is “community support” in upholding Starks’ termination.
“The petition is going to be delivered to the Civil Service Commission, and hopefully all the members of the Civil Service Commission will have an opportunity to at least know that these petitions were submitted, in the hopes that their decision is to uphold the termination,” Aaron said.
Blackshire-Lee said she was very upset to learn that Starks would be appealing his termination.
“I think it re-traumatized me,” Blackshire-Lee said. “I had no idea that it was possible that he would actually want to be reinstated as an officer here in Little Rock.”
Aaron said the family, as well as a “large turnout” of supporters, plan to attend Starks’ hearing.
“The streets of Little Rock will not be safe if Charles Starks is on them with a badge and a gun,” Aaron said. “No street is safe.”
When the family tried to give the petition to city Human Resources Director Stacey Witherell, they were told that the petition would first be given to both Starks’ and Blackshire’s lawyers for review.