LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The former Little Rock police officer who shot and killed Bradley Blackshire in February says he’s taking everything day-by-day.
“Everyday, we try and find something positive to build off of,” says former Little Rock police officer Charles Starks.
Starks, in an exclusive interview, says he feels the Civil Service Commission which upheld the city’s decision to terminate him on a policy violation judged the shooting and not the actual policy violation.
“I am disappointed more in the way they appeared just hours into the beginning of the hearing how it didn’t appear it would be an unbiased judgment,” he says.
Little Rock Police fired Starks for walking in front of Blackshire’s car which resulted in deadly force.
Starks says he thinks about the shooting often.
“In the last seven months there hasn’t been a minute that’s gone by that hasn’t been in the front of my mind. Children’s birthday parties, family gatherings, hanging out with friends, being with my wife, it’s always there,” he says.
Starks says he often thinks about Blackshire’s stare when he got out of his patrol vehicle.
Though some things are a blur, Starks says he clearly remembers the fear he could be shot.
“I was being hit by a car and I was still concerned with a gun coming up from him,” says Starks.
Starks’ chain-of-command cleared him of the policy violation but Police Chief Keith Humphrey did not and terminated Starks for walking in front of Blackshire’s car.
Starks says he does not feel like he did anything wrong that day.
“I have an incredible amount of guilt. I have guilt that what I did caused five children to not know their father growing up but had I not done what I done, my child would have never known me growing up,” he says.
The Blackshire family has called Starks’ actions destructive, but the former officer says his actions were prompted by Blackshire’s actions.
“Labeling them destructive, by the meaning of that word, I took someone’s life. That has destroyed their family and understandably so. While I disagree with them labeling it as that I understand why they would say that,” he says.
Starks feels he can be an effective Little Rock police officer again.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if a judge sees this the way it should be done and overturns it, reinstating me, that I can play a vital role in not only making a difference in this community but if allowed helping this community heal,” says Starks.
He feels there’s nothing he can say to the Blackshire family that would allow them to forgive him, something he knows about first-hand.
“When I was 11 years old, my father was murdered by gunfire. The man that shot him never went to jail and is still living life like he wants today. I’m a god-forgiving man but to this day I’ve never forgiven that man,” says Starks.
The family of Blackshire released a statement through their attorney saying:
“Charles Starks needlessly, intentionally and criminally stepped in front of a car and killed Bradley Blackshire in contravention of LRPD policy. This, after Starks had been repeatedly recommended for termination by an LRPD lieutenant. Accordingly, the family welcomes the Civil Service Commission’s decision affirming the termination of Starks’s employment. We hope the City will also take further steps towards making amends for this avoidable, devastating tragedy.”