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Family of man killed by Detroit police are suing them for $50 million

(DETROIT) — The family of Porter Burks, a 20-year-old schizophrenic man killed by Detroit police, is suing four unnamed officers for $50 million, according to the family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, who announced the lawsuit at a press conference Tuesday.

Fieger lists the officers as “unknown” because he claims Detroit Police Chief James White has “failed to provide the names of the officers who were involved in the execution-style killing of Porter Burks.”

“The chief, despite my request to him directly to provide everything, the videos and everything involved in this case…to date for the last two weeks, I’ve received nothing,” Fieger said. “They have not been forthcoming with any information.”

Detroit police responded to a call from Burks’ brother Damondo Anderson on Oct. 2, after he called asking them to help Burks while he was having a mental health crisis and armed with an 8-inch blade knife. Police approached Burks when they found him and negotiated with him to drop his weapon.

“You’re not in any trouble, just drop the knife and we’ll get you some help,” one officer said in the body cam video White showed at a press conference he held days after Burks’ death.

Burks can be seen running toward officers in the video before he was fatally shot. Officers fired 38 shots in three seconds, killing Burks.

Fieger said he would obtain the names of the officers being sued from the Detroit Police Department at a later time and “will fill them in later.” The lawsuit was filed in the Wayne County Circuit Court and alleges gross negligence, assault, battery and violation of the Disabilities Act under Michigan state law, according to Fieger.

Police were aware of Burks’ mental health condition, according to Detroit Police executive team director Christopher Graveline. They responded multiple times on separate occasions, including two incidents dating back to 2020 where Burks stabbed his siblings according to police.

In the autopsy report for Burks, it was revealed that no shots were fired by police in close proximity and that Burks was hit at least 19 times with shots to the head, face, chest, arms and legs, according to Fieger.

“It’s just nonsense that this could occur in a civilized society when so many alternatives were available to the Detroit police officers to prevent this type of tragedy,” Fieger said.

“They saw him out, they provoked the confrontation and they executed him without excuse,” he added.

Fieger also claimed White showed the public “edited videos” of the incident during the press conference.

“He has never provided those videos to the family and we don’t want an edited video…we want the full video,” Fieger said.

Despite his claims, Fieger says he and his team plan to obtain all video footage by issuing subpoenas to the Detroit Police Department and will release the videos to the public once obtained.

“The people of the state of Michigan don’t get the full effect of the brutality and the un-necessity of having shot him,” Fieger said.

ABC News reached out to the Detroit Police Department to confirm Fieger’s claims. They did not immediately respond for comment on the claims or lawsuit.

Burks’ family did not speak at the presser, but according to Fieger, the family wants to see the police involved in their loved one’s death behind bars.

“There’s no justification for this,” Fieger said. “This is the definition of excessive force.”

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