Detroit police release bodycam video of fatal shooting – WOODTV.com

DETROIT (AP) — Police body camera footage showed officers asking Porter Burks to drop the knife he was carrying on the dimly lit Detroit street.

“Drop the knife for me, man. come here quick You’re fine,” a member of the Detroit Police Department’s crisis intervention team said around 5 a.m. EDT Sunday on the city’s west side. “You’re not in trouble. Can you just talk to me and drop the knife?”

“You have no problems, okay?” the officer continued. “I only want to help you. I just want to help you man. OK? Can you please drop the knife for me? Please? Whatever you’re going through, I can help you.”

But Burks – who has struggled with mental illness in the past – didn’t drop the knife and, after pacing up and down the middle of the street, suddenly ran towards officers, who fired 38 shots in three seconds. Burks was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Detroit police showed reporters the footage on Tuesday. Police Chief James White called the shooting a “very tragic situation”.

“Not the desired result. We didn’t want that,” said White, who later added, “Our mental health crisis in this country is real. Our mental health crisis in our city is real.”

Burks suffered from schizophrenia, police said on Tuesday.

Officers were first called to a west side home about a knife-wielding man who was having a mental health crisis and spoke to a man posing as Burks’ brother. The man said Burks slashed the tires on his car.

Burks was later found on a nearby road. In the body camera footage, officers can be heard telling him not to approach the officers and to put down the jackknife.

Burks replied, “No, I’m not,” minutes before sprinting toward officers.

Five fired their guns. According to police, Burks suffered about 15 wounds.

White defended the officers’ response, saying it was part of their training.

“The officers had to fend off a threat. They felt threatened,” he said. “Three seconds – and someone coming at you with a knife – doesn’t have time to look over to see what other people are doing. As a trained police officer, you are trained to stop the threat.”

Officers wanted to give Burks “some help … to secure him and get him to a hospital,” White said.

It wasn’t Burks’ first contact with the Detroit police.

On June 26, he was admitted to the psychiatric ward at a Detroit hospital after being found in his neighborhood “going to fight someone,” police said.

Burks escaped two days later in hospital gowns and was arrested by officers as he paced in and out of traffic.

In August 2020, he stabbed his 7-year-old stepsister in the neck. In March of this year, he stabbed his sister in the neck and his brother in the head.

“This is not just a police matter,” White said. “We need help with this system. Officers are routinely put into this mode and honestly we are seeing more and more violent episodes.”

Advocates for people with mental illness say they are at greater risk that a police encounter will result in their death.

Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told The Associated Press last month that many communities lack crisis mental health infrastructure and that nearly 130 million people in the United States live in areas with a lack of providers for mental health.

The Treatment Advocacy Center said in a 2015 report that people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in a police operation than other people approached by law enforcement.

The officers who shot Burks on Sunday have been placed on administrative leave.

State police are investigating Sunday’s shooting and will submit their findings to the Wayne County Attorney’s Office. Meanwhile, the Detroit Police Department is conducting an internal administrative investigation.

On Monday, attorney Geoffrey Fieger said his law firm was hired by the Burks’ family and is working to obtain evidence of the shooting.

https://www.woodtv.com/news/michigan/ap-detroit-police-release-body-cam-video-of-fatal-shooting/ Detroit police release bodycam video of fatal shooting - WOODTV.com

Dais Johnston

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