Officers avoid charges in fatal shooting of Detroit man with mental health crisis

Detroit police officers involved in the shooting death of a 20-year-old man suffering from a mental health crisis in October acted in self-defense and will not face any charges, the county attorney’s office said. of Wayne.

A report from the prosecutor’s office said officers acted in self-defense because they spoke to Porter Burks using his first name, asked open-ended questions, asked what he wanted, then offered to take him away. where he wanted to go if he put the knife down.

Officers repeatedly told Burks to drop his gun, which can also be seen in body camera video released by the police department. Burks repeatedly refused to drop the knife and officers made “no threats or used any hostile remarks or tones,” according to a statement from the prosecutor.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy called the shooting “a truly tragic case.”

“Mr. Burks had a long history of mental illness and violent behavior and a propensity for carrying knives which was communicated by his family to responding officers,” Worthy said in a statement. “He previously allegedly cut two individuals and a seven-year-old girl in 2020. Police spent a lot of time trying to get him to drop his gun. He suddenly ran towards them with the knife and covered the distance between them in about three seconds Eyewitnesses to the shooting were interviewed and said police did everything they could to defuse the situation before Mr Burks charged the police.

She added: ‘Sadly Mr Burks was fatally shot by the officers in self-defence and in the defense of others.’

PHOTO: Bodycam footage released by the Detroit Police Department shows Porter Burks during the incident where he was fatally shot in Detroit on October 5, 2022.

Bodycam footage released by the Detroit Police Department shows Porter Burks during the incident where he was fatally shot in Detroit on October 5, 2022.


Burks had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to his family. His brother, Damondo Anderson, is the one who called authorities for help on Oct. 1, saying he was “concerned for people” because his brother was walking around the neighborhood with a knife and had a “real bad episode,” according to police. Anderson also told officers his brother was frantic and punctured his tires, which can be seen in body camera footage.

Detroit police said they fired 38 shots in three seconds at Burks. According to the prosecutor’s investigation, Burks ran approximately 40 feet in less than three seconds toward officers. Before collapsing, he was about six to eight feet from the officer who tried to convince him to drop his knife. The prosecutor’s investigation also indicated that a Taser was deployed, but there is no evidence that the Taser had any effect on Burks.

The report follows Porter’s family’s announcement earlier this month that it intends to sue four unnamed officers for $50 million for wrongful death, according to family attorney Geoffrey Fieger.

Fieger claims that Detroit Police Chief James White “did not provide the names of the officers involved in the execution-style murder of Porter Burks.”

The Detroit Police Department did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment on Fieger’s comments.

“The chief, despite my request to directly provide him with everything, the videos and everything involved in this case … to date for two weeks, I have not received anything,” Fieger told a conference. press release on November 1, announcing the trial. “They didn’t provide any information.”

White in a statement Nov. 23 called the shooting a “tragic event” and called for additional resources for people with mental illness. He thanked Worthy’s office for their “objective review.”

“Their independent review confirms that our officers’ actions were justified in these circumstances,” the statement said.

According to Fieger, Burks’ autopsy report reveals that no shots were fired by police in the vicinity and that Burks was hit at least 19 times with bullets in the head, face, chest, arms and legs.

Fieger did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the prosecutor’s findings.

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