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Family attorney holds press conference in shooting death of Porter Burks

Posted at 9:30 AM, Oct 06, 2022

(WXYZ) — Attorney Geoffrey Fieger held a press conference today in the case of 20-year-old Porter Burks who was killed in an officer-involved shooting last weekend.

Fieger, who is representing the Burks family, responded to the remarks Detroit police made earlier this week regarding the shooting.

"I have more questions today than I have answers," said Fieger.

Fieger also said the state is in a mental health crisis and called on officials to stop the defunding of mental health facilities.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger holds press conference after officer-involved shooting death of Porter Burks

"The idea that we should treat mental illness with police and guns is medieval," said Fieger.

RELATED:Family attorney: Man with mental illness shot over 30 times by DPD officers

Burks's family says the 20-year-old suffered from schizophrenia. Police said family called 911 because Burks was having a mental health crisis. When officers arrived, Burks' brother told police that Burks slashed his tires and that he had a knife.

Detroit Police Chief James White said officers fired at Burks after he allegedly charged toward an officer with a knife. Officials say Burks was shot at 38 times by five officers. At this point, it's unclear how many bullets struck Burks, but Fieger said he believes he was hit about 15 times.

The incident happened in the area of Snowden and Lyndon near Schaefer on Detroit's west side on Sunday morning just after 5 a.m.

Chief White said officers found Burks a block over, repeatedly told him to drop his knife and said they would get him some help.

Detroit Police Chief James White said Burks failed to obey officers' commands. White says Burks eventually charged one of the officers while holding the knife. A taser was reportedly deployed but did not take effect, and that's when shots were fired.

Police say Burks had history of schizophrenia that led to him stabbing family members in March and August of 2020. One of the victims was a 7-year-old girl. Then in June, he allegedly assaulted police after escaping the mental ward of a hospital and was taken back for treatment.

Fieger said Burks has never been charged with any crimes.

When he was at the hospital, he should have been kept there, and he was not,” White said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, DPD played some video showing what led up to the incident (warning: the video is graphic):

Warning: Graphic Video. Detroit police provide update on officer-involved shooting that left 22-year-old man dead

Watch the DPD press conference from Tuesday in the video player above.