Attorneys for reinstated LRPD officer Charles Starks yesterday asked the Pulaski County Circuit Court to hold Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott and Police Chief Keith Humphrey in contempt of court for failing to reissue his gun, badge or identification.
In a motion filed yesterday, they asked that Scott and Humphrey be personally fined $500 each per day until they fully complied with a judge’s order to reinstate Starks.
Police Chief Keith Humphrey fired Starks last May for violating police procedure by stepping in front of a moving car in the course of a traffic stop of Bradley Blackshire in February. Blackshire was driving a stolen car and bumped Starks as he was driving slowly away despite Starks’ order to stop. Starks fired through the windshield, killing Blackshire.
Starks appealed the firing and on Jan. 2, Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered Starks reinstated, at reduced pay (and with a retroactive 30-day suspension without pay). The city is appealing and asked for a delay in putting Starks back to work pending appeal, but Fox refused that request on Jan. 11 and Starks returned to the department.
In a motion filed yesterday, Starks’ attorneys argued that in defiance of Fox’s order, Scott and Humphrey “have refused to restore [Starks] to the position of a normal Little Rock Police Officer.”
The motion states that Starks has been told he has been placed on “relieved of duty status” and the city will not reissue his gun, badge and identification. That designation is for officers under pending disciplinary investigation, whereas the investigation for Starks has been completed, the motion states.
This status “stigmatizes” Starks, the motion argues, and leaves him “unable to protect the citizens of Arkansas, his family, or himself in the event of an emergency, and cannot make an arrest.” The motion also argues that Starks was losing around $20,000 per year in supplemental income by being precluded from doing off-duty law enforcement work.
Starks’ attorneys argue that the mayor and the chief of police should be compelled to appear before the court, and if found in contempt, each should be fined $500 per day until the reinstatement order is properly complied with. The fines should be assessed to each of them personally, the motion states, rather than using city funds.
Fox will hear arguments in the motion for contempt in a hearing set for 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Starks was fired despite contrary contrary opinions from four other officers in the line of command, who argued that while Starks might have not followed all departmental rules, his actions didn’t justify the firing. Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley found that Starks should not be criminally charged in the case, finding that Starks had reason to believe that his life was in danger. The Civil Service Commission upheld the firing before Fox ruled that it was unjustified and that Starks should be reinstated. Blackshire’s family, meanwhile, has filed a civil lawsuit against Starks, which is ongoing.