Detroit police release video of fatal shooting of man with knife during mental health check

Officers placed on administrative leave while under investigation

Detroit police released body cam footage that shed light on a deadly police shooting that killed a man with a knife during a mental health check on the city’s west side. Detroit police Chief James White opted to go public with the video from Sunday morning when police fired upon the 22-year-old man killing him. White says there’s a lot of misinformation about what happened and wants to clear it up.

DETROIT – Police released body cam footage that shed light on a deadly police shooting that killed a man with a knife in Detroit on Sunday during a mental health check.

Detroit police Chief James White opted to go public with the video from Sunday, Oct. 2, when police fired at a 22-year-old man, killing him. White says there’s a lot of misinformation about what happened, and wants to clear it up, and hopes sharing body cam footage will do just that.

At about 5 a.m. on Sunday, the Detroit Police Department was called to a home on the city’s west side because 22-year-old Porter Burks was having a mental health crisis. Burks had already reportedly slashed a family member’s tires and was walking around with a knife on the street.

Burks’ family told police they’d like to see the man in the hospital to get treatment.

“Drop the knife real quick for me, man,” an officer said to Burks. “You’re not in any trouble.”

Porter Burks during a negotiation with Detroit police on Oct. 2, 2022. (Detroit Police Department)

Police saw Burks walking the street minutes later. The officer on the scene was reportedly trained on how to help someone undergoing a mental health crisis.

“My name is Shawn, man,” the officer said. “You’re OK. You’re not in any trouble, OK? I just want to help you. I just want to help you, man, OK? Can you do me a favor and drop the knife?”

The knife held by a man who was fatally shot by Detroit police on Oct. 2, 2022. (Detroit Police Department)

Burks didn’t want to drop the knife. The conversation continued with the police assuring him he was not in trouble. He told police he didn’t want to talk, and the situation went south.

“Right now, we just need you to drop the knife,” the officer said. “Porter, Porter!”

Read: 5 Detroit officers fire 38 shots, killing man with knife during mental health check -- what we know

“Certainly, again, not the desired outcome,” White said. “My condolences to the Burks family.”

There were multiple officers on the scene, with five of them shooting at Burks. In total, 38 bullets were fired, according to DPD, with about 15 of them striking Burks.

White told Local 4 that Burks was out six feet away from officers when he was hit.

“Officers also on the scene had to assess the threat,” White said. “There’s no time in three seconds when someone is charging at you with a knife to look over to see what other people are doing.”

The Detroit officers involved in the incident are currently on administrative leave amid the investigation, which is standard procedure after a police shooting occurs.

Burks, according to his family, had schizophrenia. He has a violent history, including stabbing three family members.

His family tried to get in the press briefing on Tuesday, but were turned away. They instead had to watch a live stream.

“I hate to say if anyone out here has a family member or a loved one that’s suffering from mental illness, help them yourself,” said a female family member. “Please don’t call 911. They might not make it.”

The Burks family said they have retained attorney Geoffrey Fieger.


About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.