Bodycam Footage Reportedly Shows 5 Officers Firing 38 Shots, Fatally Hitting Porter Burks 15 Times in 3 Seconds

More disturbing details are being discovered about the fatal police-involved shooting of a 20-year-old Black man killed on Sunday, Oct. 2, in Detroit. Footage and initial discovery show a different story than originally shared by the involved officers, including the size of the weapon the deceased was carrying — it was almost five inches smaller than first reported.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Detroit Police Department released the bodycam footage of the shooting of Porter Burks, a young man diagnosed with schizophrenia and experiencing a manic outburst around 5 a.m. on Sunday morning near the corner of Snowden and Lyndon.

Officials shared in a news conference held at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters that five of the force’s officers shot the young man in three seconds, exhausting 38 rounds that struck him at least 15 times, the Detroit Free Press reports.

A graphic warning has been issued for the below video starting 5:48 minutes into the conference.

The officers said they were responding to Burke dangerously wielding an eight-inch knife in the street during the time of engagement. The department now admits the weapon was approximately 3.5 inches.

According to Detroit Police Chief James White, the department released the footage as an act of transparency with the community, noting this is an unusual move so early in the investigation.

He said, “I want to once again extend my condolences to the family of Mr. Burks, who are obviously grieving the loss of their loved one. Any time the department has to use force is never, never a desired outcome. We always hope for a peaceful resolution.”

The chief is hoping this act communicates their honest effort to discover the truth and bring forth justice.

However, Burks’ relatives, who were allegedly invited to the press release but denied entrance once they arrived, are scoffing at the idea of transparency and believe what happened was “flat out murder.”

Burks’ mother, Quieauna Wilson, said to the press, “Let the media know that he was shot and tased at the same time. That’s why the taser didn’t work.”

The young man’s aunt Michelle Wilson added, “They told us to our face they pulled the trigger and the taser at the same time.”

White has not released the names of the officers involved in Burks’ shooting but shared they are no longer on patrol. Each cop has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by internal affairs and the Michigan State Police.

Once those findings are available, they will be given to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Officer, who will determine if charges against the officers are appropriate.

On the morning in question, The Detroit News reports, a 911 call came through about a man in crisis on Detroit’s westside at an apartment on Littlefield Street.

Damondo Anderson, one of Burks’ brothers contends 911 was called hoping that they might get medical support.

He said they called, “Just to send EMS out so that they could get him back to mental treatment, that’s all we just wanted him to get back to the mental treatment.”

The released bodycam video shows the cops talking to Burks’ brother, who shares his assessment and concern for his brother and the impact his behavior might have on those around him, before telling the officers that Burks slashed his tires.

He said, “He’s frantic and he has a knife. I’m concerned for people.”

Officers see Burks standing in the middle of the street and start engaging in crisis intervention negotiation. However, Burks is resistant. They ask the young man to put the knife down, but he refuses.

“You’re not in any trouble, just drop the knife and we’ll get you some help,” the officer says.

“I just want to help you, man, OK? Can you do me a favor and drop the knife? Can you drop the knife for me? Please? Please, whatever you’re going through, I can help you. Porter, you’re not in any trouble, man,” the cop continues.

 Burks says to the officer, “I don’t want to talk … I just want to get some rest.”

After some time, Burks, who is about 6 feet away, charges toward the officers, but as soon as he approaches, the officers shoot him.

“Without warning, Burks charged at one of the officers,” White said. “Fearing for his safety, and the other officers fearing for their partner’s safety, (the officers) fired their weapons.

Officers originally said they stunned him with a Taser before shooting him. But White later backtracked that when he shared the clip of the incident.

Now the department is working to determine whether the stun gun was deployed before, after, or at the same time as the family alleges, they were told.

White told the public, “Despite this horrific act, the officers were able to quickly transition to a first-aid mode and began to render first aid. The officers then conveyed Mr. Burks to a local hospital where he, unfortunately, was pronounced dead.”

“This is a tragic situation,” the chief added. “Anytime we use force, it’s not the desired outcome. Anytime we use fatal force, it’s the worst outcome.”

The family said while navigating Burks’ schizophrenia diagnosis was a challenge, those who knew him believed him to be a good person that did not see him as a danger.

“The community knows Porter. They trusted Porter. They helped Porter. They loved Porter. He wasn’t a threat to no one,” Wilson said.

White contends the shooting is also about the police department’s preparedness on working with people in crisis.

He said, “I think the bigger discussion needs to be not what the police are doing with mental health, but who else is helping us with mental health issues.”

Detroit Police Director of Professional Standards and Constitutional Policing Christopher Graveline said at the news conference Burks had a history of violent episodes connected to his schizophrenia, including stabbing a 7-year-old relative.

“We’ve done our investigation into Mr. Burks’ past, and we found … unfortunately, a system that has failed Mr. Burks on several different occasions over the last several years,” he shared, pointing to several incidents where he stabbed members of his family in March 2020 and August 2020. Earlier in the summer, on June 26, 911 was called again on the young man because he was roaming up and down the street looking to fight.

Burks was admitted to Sinai-Grace Hospital’s psychological ward but escaped two days later and struck an officer while he was on the lam.

“We have seen a pattern of (Burks) being brought to psychological services and being released and not being followed up with taking his medication,” Graveline noted at the news conference.

In this case, the chief alleges Burks seemed to be a threat to the officers on site.

“The officers had to stop the threat,” White added. “There’s no time in the three seconds and someone charging at you with a knife to look over and see what other people are doing.”

“Y’all didn’t even give him a chance,” the aunt said. “We are outraged.”

Wilson’s remarks, which were not directed to the chief, came with a warning to people with relatives or loved ones living with mental illness, “Help them yourself. Don’t call 911. They might not make it.”

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