Law enforcement is usually the first point of contact we encounter during an emergency. However, their callousness and violent conduct toward the lives of Black and disabled people often result in senseless tragedy. The family of 20-year-old Porter Burks, a young Black man murdered by police officers in Detroit, Michigan last month, have filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city and five unidentified officers.
On October 1st, Burks was shot and killed by Detroit PD during a mental health crisis triggered by his paranoid schizophrenia. His mother, Quieauna Wilson, had called the police to take Burks to the hospital for treatment following an episode the day before, but police couldn't locate Burks after he left his mother's home. Burks was later found the following night wandering through a residential neighborhood, and police attempted to coax him to drop the pocketknife he had been carrying.
Although Burks refused to drop the knife, and told police he wanted to rest, he was 50 feet away from the officers with his hands above his head. Nonetheless, the officers unloaded 38 rounds in Burks. He was fatally shot 19 times, and the Wayne County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.
Quieauna Wilson, and the rest of Porter Burks' family, have accused the officers of gross negligence, assault and battery, and wanton and willful misconduct, as well as the city of Detroit of violating the state’s Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops, and hope that Porter Burks' family receives justice for their loss.