LRPD officer involved in deadly use of force shooting suing police chief, mayor

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Little Rock Police Officer who a judge ruled was wrongly fired by the city over a deadly shooting, is now suing Chief Keith Humphrey and Mayor Frank Scott Jr.

In just over a month, this marks the fourth lawsuit filed by nine current officers and one civilian police department employee, against Chief Humphrey and the city.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday is by Officer Charles Starks, who was involved in a deadly shooting of a black man in February 2019.

“The Mayor and the chief have had an agenda,” said Starks’ lawyer Robert Newcomb. “Is the city going to have your back or are they going to throw you under the damn bus if somebody tries to kill you and you have to use deadly force to protect yourself?”

According to the lawsuit, the same day as the shooting Mayor Scott asked if Starks could be fired and later rushed the police department investigation, “in order to fire Officer Starks as soon as possible.”

In April 2019, Humphrey was sworn in as the new Police Chief.

Three days later the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office deemed the shooting was justified and Starks was never criminally charged.

A couple weeks later in May, Starks was fired over the shooting.

He fought that first with the city’s Civil Service Commission, which upheld the decision to fire Starks.

According to the lawsuit, Starks still had time to file an appeal in September when Humphrey sent a letter to the state saying Starks, “exhausted his appeals” and should be decertified as an officer.

“At a minimum it shows incompetence,” Newcomb said.

Starks did appeal and was ultimately reinstated as an officer by a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge in January 2020.

Since Starks has been back on the force, the lawsuit claims he has continued to be retaliated against.

“I had to threaten a second time to sue when he was in accreditation, everyone had a car except for him,” Newcomb added.

The lawsuit asks for damages and for the Chief and Mayor to personally pay the bill, not taxpayers.

Both the Mayor and Chief declined to comment.

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