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Blackshire Estate Lawsuit: Tentative Settlement Proposed

Kimberly Blackshire-Lee (center) on July 24, 2019 holding an envelope that she said included signatures from more than 2,000 people who supported officer Charles Starks' firing (Photo: KUAR)

Little Rock and Bradley Blackshire’s estate have tentatively agreed to a monetary and nonmonetary settlement. The Municipal League will cover the majority of the cost.

The family of Bradley Blackshire, 30, whom a Little Rock police officer fatally shot during a traffic stop in 2019, has settled a lawsuit against the City and the officers involved in the incident. A settlement was proposed to end the litigation brought against Little Rock by the estate of Bradley Blackshire. 

Kimberly Blackshire-Lee, Bradley’s mother, filed the lawsuit in June 2019, alleging that former officers Charles Starks and Michael Simpson used excessive deadly force, failed to provide medical care, and violated Arkansas’ Civil Rights Act. 

Starks fired at least 15 shots through Bradley’s car as he rolled the car forward. He was later pronounced dead at the scene. Starks was cleared of criminal misconduct by local prosecutors but terminated by Police Chief Keith Humphrey for violating departmental procedure due to the shooting. 

Read also: 21-Year-Old Mother Stabs Her Baby Girl In Front Of A Police Officer

Charles Starks listens to testimony during the Civil Service Commission hearing at Little Rock City Hall in this Sept. 4, 2019 (Photo: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Court reverses order

In September 2021, the Arkansas Court of Appeals has reversed the Pulaski County Judge’s order that reinstated Starks.

According to the Court of Appeals, the case was simply a question of whether Starks had violated the general order, which the commission answered by upholding the firing.

The court of appeals said, “We must therefore reverse and remand this case so that the circuit court may conduct a de novo review of the commission’s decision that Starks violated general order using the appropriate standard of voluntariness.”

Tentative settlement

Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. issued an order last week stating that the City and Simpson had informally advised the court of a settlement.

At the time, city officials refused to provide specific details about the settlement terms. According to Spencer Watson, the city spokesman, the City will have no further comment until all parties’ final agreement is signed and accepted by the court.

Britney Walls’ attorney, who serves as special administrator of Blackshire’s estate, stated in a court filing Friday that a probate court must still approve the settlement before claims are dismissed.

On Monday, John Wilkerson, the group’s general counsel, has stated the proposed settlement’s monetary terms, as well as the nonmonetary provisions.

As outlined in Wilkerson’s email, the settlement’s nonmonetary provisions would require the Police Department’s training division and Little Rock Television staff to produce a video featuring one of Blackshire’s family. According to Wilkerson, the video must be showed to each police recruit class for at least ten years.

When asked if the Municipal League’s attorneys believed that the Little Rock Board must approve any settlement of Directors, Wilkerson responded that his understanding was that “the Board is not required to approve a settlement in which the City will spend less than $50,000.”

He added, “We do not know of any instance in which the Board has formally approved a settlement in which the City spent less than $50,000. Because this proposed settlement requires the City to spend less than $50,000, we believe the Mayor and City Manager have authority to bind the City and settle this case.”

Related article: Faulkner County Man Found Dead After Standoff With Arkansas State Police

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