Walls v. Starks

Read the full complaint in Walls v. Starks here.

On February 22, 2019, Mr. Bradley Blackshire was driving a borrowed Nissan Altima when an automatic license plate reader alerted the Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) that the car had been reported stolen. Unbeknownst to Mr. Blackshire, LRPD then dispatched then-Officer Starks to track down the Altima and investigate.

Starks was not brought to Mr. Blackshire’s attention until after Mr. Blackshire parked the Altima in a barbershop parking lot. At that time, Starks pulled into the parking lot, partially barricaded the Altima with his patrol SUV, drew his gun on Mr. Blackshire and repeatedly ordered Mr. Blackshire to get out of the Altima. When Mr. Blackshire asked Starks why he was ordering him out of the car, Starks refused to answer him. When Mr. Blackshire asked Starks why he was going to shoot him, Starks refused to answer him. Instead, Starks continued to order Mr. Blackshire to get out of the car.

The Altima then began to slowly roll forward. The Altima moved so slowly that, after five seconds of movement, it had not made its way out of the parking space it was in when Starks initially confronted Mr. Blackshire. Starks took a few steps away from the Altima, as if he were going to let it go around his patrol SUV and out of the parking lot. Then, without warning, Starks stopped, leaned into the Altima and repeatedly shot at Mr. Blackshire. The Altima then stopped, at which point Starks stepped in front of the Altima and fired over ten more shots into the Altima, killing Mr. Blackshire in the process.

After the shooting, the City of Little Rock fired Starks for violating LRPD’s policy against firing into moving vehicles. In addition, one of Starks’s superiors noted that an LRPD policy permitting officers to barricade motorists suspected of committing crimes was problematic. Starks has claimed, in his defense, the LRPD did not train him on how to address a situation akin to his encounter with Mr. Blackshire.

Britney Walls, as Special Administratrix of the Estate of Bradley Blackshire, has filed suit against former Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) Officer Charles Starks, LRPD Officer Michael Simpson and the City of Little Rock, Arkansas for various constitutional violations that culminated in the unjustified, fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire on February 22, 2019. 

Plaintiff Britney Walls has asserted an excessive force claim against Starks and a failure to provide medical care claim against Starks and Simpson. Notably, Simpson, who arrived on the scene during the shooting, held the dying—if not dead—Mr. Blackshire at gun point and hurled expletives at him after the shooting, instead of rendering medical aid. Ms. Walls has also asserted a Monell claim against the City of Little Rock, alleging that the policies and practices of the City of Little Rock and the LRPD created a culture of impunity that encourages officers to escalate their interactions with people suspected of committing crimes, and it was precisely this culture, as well as the policies and practices underpinning it, that caused Mr. Blackshire to come to early grief. She is represented by Omavi Shukur, the Practitioner-in-Residence at the Initiative for a Just Society and attorneys at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Loevy & Loevy. 

Mr. Blackshire was father to five children who are now growing up without a father. His mother, Kim Blackshire-Lee, has lost her only son, and remains in deep grief, while she struggles financially and mentally to care for his children. The same is true of Mr. Blackshire's sister, Plaintiff Ms. Walls, who now also has to shoulder the burden of caring for Bradley’s now-fatherless children.