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

Detroit police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man who went through a mental health crisis in October acted in self-defense and will not be prosecuted, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said.

According to a prosecutor’s report, the officers acted in self-defense because they spoke to Porter Burks under his first name, asked open-ended questions, asked him what he wanted, and then offered to take him anywhere if he put the knife down.

The officers repeatedly told Burks to drop his gun, which can also be seen on bodycam video released by the police. Burks repeatedly refused to drop the knife and the officers made no “threats and did not use hostile remarks or tones,” according to a statement from the prosecution.

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 to carry knives that were communicated to the responding officers by his family,” Worthy said in a statement. “He would have stabbed two people and a seven-year-old girl earlier in 2020. The police spent a lot of time trying to get him to drop his gun. He suddenly ran at them with the knife and bridged the distance between them in about three seconds. Eyewitnesses to the shooting were interviewed and indicated that the police did everything they could to de-escalate the situation before Mr. Burks attacked the police.’

She added: “Unfortunately, Mr. Burks was fatally shot by the officers in self-defense and in defense of others.”

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


Burks had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to his family. His brother, Damondo Anderson, was the one who called authorities for help on Oct. 1, claiming he was “worried about people” because his brother was walking around the neighborhood with a knife and had a “really bad episode,” police said Anderson also told officers his brother was frantic and slashing his tires, which can be seen on bodycam footage.

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Detroit police said they fired 38 shots at Burks in three seconds. According to the prosecution’s investigation, Burks ran toward officers about 40 feet in less than three seconds. Before he collapsed, he was about two to six feet from the officer who tried to persuade him to drop his knife. The prosecution’s investigation also found that a taser had been deployed, but there is no evidence whether the taser had an effect on Burks.

This report comes on the heels of Porter’s family announcing earlier this month that they plan to sue four unnamed officers for $50 million for wrongful death, according to the family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger.

Fieger claims that Detroit Police Chief James White “did not give the names of the officers involved in the execution-like 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 him directly to provide everything, the videos and everything related to this case … so far I have not received anything in the last two weeks,” Fieger said at a press conference on Nov. 1 . the lawsuit. “They have not provided any information.”

White in one pronunciation November 23 called the shooting a “tragic event” and called for additional resources for people with mental illness. He thanked Worthy’s office for the “objective assessment.”

“Their independent assessment confirms that our officers’ actions were justified under those circumstances,” the statement said.

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

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



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