Brian Chilson
CHARLES STARKS: In file photo from his Civil Service Commission hearing.

Circuit Judge Tim Fox surprised a crowd gathered today for Charles Starks’ appeal of his firing as a Little Rock police officer for the fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire by canceling most planned testimony and announcing he’d rule on the Civil Service Commission record and briefs.

Starks was fired May 6 for fatally shooting Bradley Blackshire Feb. 22. He was fired on the order of Police Chief Keith Humphrey and that firing was upheld by the Civil Service Commission. Others in the Police Department line of command faulted some elements of Starks’ handling of a traffic stop on a stolen car report and confrontation with Blackshire. But they and Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley found the shooting was justified. Blackshire’s car, moving slowly, struck Starks and the office said he feared Blackshire was reaching for a gun. A gun was found in the car.

Robert Newcomb, attorney for Starks, had called a number of witnesses, but Fox heard only one, a retired internal affairs investigator, Sgt. James Stephens. He was allowed to answer a question that the Civil Service Commission had barred in Starks’ unsuccessful appeal before the commission. Stephens said, according to the city’s attorney Khayyam Eddings, that Starks had violated procedural rules that day but he’d have recommended a 10-day suspension, not firing.

According to Eddings, Fox said he would decide the case on the extensive record at the Civil Service Commission and briefs in the case, which are due later this month.