LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A police officer who had been fired earlier this year after a deadly force incident will not get his job back.
The decision comes after a hearing for Ofc. Charles Starks that included several hours of testimony Wednesday.
Ofc. Starks had been fired following the February shooting death of Bradley Blackshire.
Those who testified included Retired LRPD Sgt. James Stephens, who handled the internal affairs case. He testified that the Internal Affairs review usually begins after the prosecutor makes a decision. He added that he was asked by the department to complete his review within 24 hours, which he says has never happened before. Sgt. Stephens also said that Acting Chief Wayne Bewley told him the Mayor’s Office wanted it completed and processed in a rush.
“I was never given that short amount of time,” he said, adding that he usually completes a case in about 20 days. He says this allows for Internal Affairs to have discussions about the case to make sure it’s complete.
Sgt. Stephens says just because the file was rushed, it didn’t have any impact on how the opinion came out. He says it only would have given him time to ‘write it up better.’
Sgt. Stephens also testified that “Blackshire used deadly force against Officer Starks. Officer Starks returned deadly force.”
LRPD Captain Heath Helton then took the stand. He testified that he believes this should not be considered a traffic stop. The city has argued otherwise. Capt. Helton said he received the Internal Affairs file and the violation was already sustained, which he says isn’t normal practice. He also said he did not believe Starks should have been fired.
Lt. Dana Jackson then testified, saying when he received the internal case file, it already showed Starks’ violation had already been sustained. He too said he believed Starks shouldn’t have been disciplined.
Starks’ former sergeant then took the stand, saying he believed Starks did what we could given the fact Blackshire had backed into a parking space.
Officer Simpson, the officer that drove up during the shooting testified next. He said the only thing he saw as he drove up was Officer Starks on the hood of Blackshire’s car and he then heard shots fired. He says at that point he didn’t know who was firing.
Officer Simpson said he didn’t believe this should be considered a traffic stop.