Prosecutors will not pursue charges against a white police officer in Little Rock, Arkansas, who killed a black man after firing upwards of 15 shots or more through the windshield of a stolen car he was driving, The Guardian reports.
On Friday, Larry Jegley, the Pulaski County prosecutor, said that the police officer, Charles Starks, would not face charges in connection with the February shooting of Bradley Blackshire. According to police, the incident occurred as Starks was responding to a call about a stolen vehicle.
The ensuing result would be captured on a 25-minute video that was released last month. In the video, Starks is on the vehicle’s hood, shooting 30-year-old Blackshire throughout he windshield as the car was in motion.
In a letter to the town’s police chief, Jegley explained the reasoning behind his decision not to pursue charges against the officer.
“Starks was confronted with the imminent threat of deadly force in two forms: 1) the vehicle that was driving toward him and from which he had no duty to retreat, and 2) his reasonable belief that Mr. Blackshire was going to shoot him,” the letter states, before continuing, “Starks’ use of force, under Arkansas law and prior decisions by the United States supreme court, was justified.”
Ammunition was found in Blackshire’s pockets and a loaded handgun was found in the car.
— KATV News (@KATVNews) April 19, 2019
Following the shooting, the police department in Little Rock placed Starks on paid leave. The officer surrendered his badge and gun while the investigation, which took about two weeks, took place.
Omavi Shukur, a lawyer for Blackshire’s family, released a statement in response to the decision not to pursue charges.
“Charles Starks’ actions were criminal,” the statement reads. “The family disagrees with the prosecutor’s decision and will be undeterred in our pursuit of justice.”
Robert Newcomb, a lawyer for Starks, indicated that the officer was happy with the decision.
“It relieves burden on him and his family. He wishes Mr. Blackshire would’ve gotten out of the car and this would have never happened,” Newcomb said in a statement.
The shooting occurred as tensions between the police and much of the Little Rock community were already strained, with the department facing scrutiny about their use of no-knock warrants. Protestors shut down a downtown intersection earlier in the week, with Police Chief Keith Humphrey meeting with the group after defending their right to protest peacefully.
Mayor Frank Scott, the first black man to be elected mayor in the city, has called for an independent citizen board to address the use of excessive force by police, also calling for body cameras for police officers.