Family of Porter Burks sues Detroit Police Department for $50 million

Read statement from Detroit Police Chief James White
Posted at 6:02 AM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 16:40:33-04

(WXYZ) — The family of Porter Burks, the 20-year-old man who was shot and killed by Detroit Police during a mental health crisis call, has sued the Detroit Police Department for $50 million.

The family's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger held a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to announce the filling.

During the conference he revealed that a medical examiner found 19 gunshot wounds on Burks' body. A total of 38 shots were fired towards him.

The mortem report says Burks was shot in the head twice, 6 times in the chest, once in the abdomen, once in the right arm, 5 times in the left arm, once in the left leg and 3 times in the right leg.

The examiner writes in the report that he believes his death was caused by the multiple gunshot wounds. Burks passed away on October 2 after an encounter with police.

His family says they called DPD because they feared for Burks' safety as well as others.

Burks suffers from schizophrenia and has a history of stabbing people. He was walking around with a knife that day.

When police arrived on scene to help him, they say they struggled to calm him down. They also claim that Burks charged at one of the officers with a knife. That led to him being shot at 38 times by 5 different officers.

"Why would you shoot him with 38 bullets? Why would you treat him worse than a wild animal?”

Back in October, Chief White defended his officer's response saying DPD is having to increasingly deal with people suffering from mental illness with dangerous weapons.

"Our mental health crisis is real. Our mental health crisis in our city is real and this is not just a police matter, we're a response unit," he said.

The Department reiterates that the shooting of Porter Burks was truly a tragic event.

Statement released from Detroit Police Chief James White:

The Department will continue to advocate for greater resources for the mental health community and will take every opportunity to improve its response to people suffering from mental illness.

We firmly believe that if appropriate mental health facilities and treatment plans had been available, this situation may have been avoided.

Regrettably, the DPD remains the primary emergency response service for individuals suffering from mental health emergencies. As this matter is now the subject of active litigation, the Department will no longer provide commentary on this still-pending investigation.