A Pulaski County circuit court judge ruled Thursday that Little Rock, Arkansas, police officer Charles Starks should not have been fired for shooting and killing a 30-year-old man during a traffic stop. Judge Timothy Fox said suspending the officer for 30 days and reducing his pay to that of an entry-level officer are sufficient punishments. A spokeswoman for Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said the city will appeal the judge’s ruling.
The incident occurred on Feb. 22 after Bradley Blackshire drove his car—which was identified as stolen by a license plate reader—into a parking lot. Starks responded to the report and the two men got into a heated discussion. At some point, Blackshire drove his vehicle forward and hit the officer’s leg, leading Starks to shoot at Blackshire several times. The officer then walked in front of the car, and fired his gun several more times. Eight of the reported 15 bullets struck Blackshire, killing him. The officer later said that he walked in front of the car to access his patrol car. He was placed on administrative leave immediately after the incident and was subsequently fired on May 6. Fox said in the ruling that Starks’ actions were “those of a reasonable certified law enforcement officer,” but that he did violate certain policies.