The most recent video of a critical incident of a police shooting, released by the Little Rock Police Department on May 13, was produced by Little Rock Television and department staff, according to records and statements officials, unlike an earlier video production on a critical incident so that the city relied on a marketing company linked to the mayor’s chief spokesperson.
The department posted video of the May 8 shooting online. The video package assembled footage of the filming and subsequent apprehension of a motorist after a call behind the wheel without his consent.
The video was over 19 minutes long and featured views of the incident from police corps cameras, an introduction by a department spokesperson and analysis of the encounter provided by Police Chief Keith Humphrey .
The decision to ask city staff to produce the latest critical incident video contrasted with the production of a 2019 video showing the murder of Bradley Blackshire, a 30-year-old black motorist who was shot dead during an encounter with a Little Rock police officer. Charles Starks.
The public relations and marketing firm where Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s chief spokesperson and her husband work has been paid nearly $ 5,000 to produce the video package showing the Blackshire shoot.
Mayor’s spokesperson Stephanie Jackson is a part-time city employee and concurrently is the director of public relations and media relations for The Design Group, a local marketing firm. Her husband, Myron, also works for the company.
Scott’s senior advisor Kendra Pruitt said the city did not have the resources or capacity to internally produce the critical incidents video for 2019. Scott was inaugurated in January 2019.
When asked if it was a mistake to rely on an outside firm linked to Jackson given that the most recent police video was produced in-house by city staff, Pruitt replied that no.
“No, it was not a mistake to retain the design group to produce the 2019 Critical Incident Video (CIV) relating to Bradley Blackshire,” Pruitt wrote in an email Friday. “In an effort to be accountable, clear and transparent, we have found it important to produce and publish the state’s first critical incident video that has become a benchmark for our police department and other municipalities.”
In 2019, The Design Group’s involvement in the video of the Blackshire shoot was attributed to how quickly the company would be able to shoot the video.
Asked about the potential conflict, Scott told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the time: âI didn’t see a conflict of interest, especially in the weighting of community unrest and transparency. We couldn’t. not allow us to wait for this video to come out on the 14th or 15th day. “
The Design Group received $ 4,990. The size of the payment avoided the city threshold in which purchases over $ 5,000 must be competitively bid, although the rules say a waiver can be obtained for large purchases when in the best interest of the city.
At the time, Scott hinted at the newspaper that a competitive bid could have increased the cost of video production, hinting at possible “urgent work.” Filming took place on February 22, 2019. The video was released on March 7, 13 days later.
Starks was fired after the shooting, but was later reinstated in accordance with a judge’s order. He finally resigned from the ministry last fall.
The suspect in the May 8 encounter, Michael Smith, 37, was shot in the leg and hospitalized. He was subsequently charged with the felonies of felony attempted murder punishable by death, police leakage and second degree battery life, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, a misdemeanor.
In an email, police spokesman Mark Edwards said he, Sgt. Eric Barnes and Little Rock Television “were responsible for the video”.
“We have not received any additional compensation,” wrote Edwards.
When asked if The Design Group was paid or involved in the production of the most recent police video, Jackson said no when contacted by email on May 18.
A Freedom of Information Act request for recordings related to the May 13 video, including receipts and correspondence related to the video production, did not return any public documents, according to the Department of Justice. police.
Earlier this year, The Design Group was credited with the production work associated with the Mayor’s City State Virtual Broadcast, which took place on March 25. However, Jackson said the company was not paid for the work.
When asked what had changed between 2019 and 2021 to allow the city to forgo an outside company for the production of police videos, Pruitt wrote in an email: “The city was able to learn from the standard. established by the 2019 critical incident video, as it had not done before in the city or state, and we have used this template to produce our own videos in-house since then. â
She added: âSince 2019, we have hired a part-time videographer to work with LRTV, and LRPD has hired a civilian. [public information officer] who also contributed to the most recent critical incident video We will continue to do what is necessary to disseminate relevant and quality information in a timely manner in order to be accountable, clear and transparent to our residents. “