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Topic: Flint Police had no reason to pump 5 bullets into her?
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Steve Myers
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Police shooting slammed
Woman armed with knife little threat -- neighbors FLINTTHE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITIONSunday, April 22, 2007By Paul Janczewskipjanczewski@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6333
FLINT - She didn't have to die. Police had no reason to pump five bullets into her.

That was the reaction Saturday from relatives and others at Shady Acres mobile home park who witnessed Jo Ann Burgett's fatal encounter with Flint police Friday night.

But police say Burgett was armed and dangerous, advancing toward them with a knife they begged her to put down.

Officers had swarmed the park, 4615 Western Road, next to Kearsley Creek, to defuse a trouble call about 7 p.m. They shot Burgett, 46, multiple times near her home on Lot 32.

Neighbor Vince Hanson and others said police fired up to eight shots, five of which struck Burgett. At least one bullet traveled about 200 feet and struck an occupied trailer.

"They just murdered her, flat out," Hanson said. "She was staggering back and forth, with her hands in the air. She was drunk. What kind of a threat is that?

"That was just wrong."

Hanson spoke while standing in the narrow street near a dark spot in the cement where Burgett bled.

Acting Flint Police Chief Gary Hagler said Saturday some witnesses said Burgett was approaching the officers, making slashing motions with the knife.

He said law enforcement officers nationwide are killed each year by people wielding knives, and it's not accurate to suggest they are not dangerous.
Flint police do not carry Tasers.

The police who fired on Burgett have not been identified, but they have been placed on administrative leave, as is department policy. One has been on the force for about a year, and the other for about four years, officials said.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family," Hagler said in a statement.

"Our officers have the duty to protect the citizens and the right to protect themselves. We have initiated a full investigation and the state police crime lab is included in the investigation."

Police said Burgett was several feet away when they fired. Other witnesses said the distance was up to 20 feet.

Hanson and others said Burgett was holding a 3-inch-long folding knife and walking toward police as they ordered her to drop it.

Hanson said he told police he knew Burgett, had seen her acting like this before and could talk her into giving up the knife.

He said the street was crowded with people, including kids, and he and others were trying to get police to refrain from using deadly force.

"Hell, no, they were not in danger," he said of police.

Neighbor Thomas Stugner, 60, was sitting at home when he heard gunshots, followed by a slug hitting his trailer - an errant shot from police guns.
He said residents outdoors risked being hit by stray bullets.

"They just could have handled this in a different way," Stugner said.

"They started shooting at her without giving her a chance," said Burgett's daughter, Crystal, 25, who also lives at the park but was not home and did not witness the shooting. "They didn't have to go to this extreme. I feel there was no need for this. But they shot so quick."

Crystal Burgett said her mother stood only 5-feet-6 and weighed 120 pounds.

She said her mother carried the knife and had an argument with her girlfriend, which likely led her mother to call the police.

"She's called police on herself before," the daughter said.

Now, Crystal Burgett said she has to explain to her three kids - "They were her world," she said - why their grandmother died.

"This was just total overkill."

Hagler pointed to a 2004 incident at the Meijer store on Center Road in which a Burton police officer was severely injured by a man wielding a knife. That assailant, too, was shot, but survived and was later sent to prison.

"Witnesses' statements indicate that (Burgett) had been drinking heavily throughout the day and her behavior became erratic, including fighting with others in the neighborhood," Hagler said.


Police responded after receiving a number of 911 calls.

"Once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the Genesee County Prosecutor's office for review," Hagler said.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said it's much too early to speculate on anything.

"Once we get the completed investigation, I'll convene a committee of senior prosecutors to discuss it. Only when we have every last speck of information will we make a determination."

Crystal Burgett said the family has no money and is asking for donations and burial assistance for her mother.

She said she would open a bank account this week and formalize a way for anyone to help the family.

"We can't even begin with funeral arrangements. We don't have her body yet," she said.
http://www.mlive.com/news/flintjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-43/1177237454325430.xml&coll=5&thispage=1

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Steve Myers
Post Sun Apr 22, 2007 6:08 pm 
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Ponycar
F L I N T O I D

Police are authorized to use deadly force when there is an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to themselves or others. This lady was intoxicated, obviously agitated, and wielding a knife. according to eyewitnesses, she was walking toward officers, and ignoring their commands to put the knife down. Did the officers have reason to believe that there was an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm ? I would say yes .
Post Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:15 am 
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Richard
F L I N T O I D

It is not the fault of the police that she was drunk and carrying a knife. Quit blaming the police for everything, they did there job as they are trained to do.
richard
Post Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:59 am 
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JBToolFist
F L I N T O I D

Does anybody actually believe the world is a lesser place due to the loss of a drunk piece of trailer trash?

Cut the police some slack - They asked her to drop the knife (a deadly weapon) she didn't - so sucks to be her.

I just thank god she was white, not black, otherwise we'd have to put up with the obnoxious race-baiters Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton coming to town. (what a said commentary on our society when we have to wish that white people get killed over black people - just because we're sick of all the B.S. we have to put up with when this kind of thing happens to blacks.) How ironic that as a white person - my feelings are "Kill Whitey!" -sad.


Last edited by JBToolFist on Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:29 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:41 am 
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Richard
F L I N T O I D

I agree, "Thank goodness she was white." It's a rather simple process when you live in a society folks, "Live by the rules that were created for the benefit of everyone." You want to act like an idiot like this lady, then you pay the price.
I now have to ask, "Why is there a request for donations to help the family?" If you cannot afford a funeral then you cremate-PERIOD! You must learn to live within ones means. I have seen funeral donations that do not go to the funeral home but to family for personal expenses.
Sad it happened but it happens!
Post Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:17 am 
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Al Garcia
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Once again!!! The Eastside REPRESENTIN'!
Make us proud Flintstones! Make us all proud!
Whata hellhole!

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WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU PEOPLE DONE TO MY HOMETOWN? I KNEW I SHOULD OF HIRED A BABYSITTER! ALL THE RIFF RAFF OUT NOW!
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Post Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:05 pm 
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sbaldwin
F L I N T O I D

untill you have faced some one with a knife even if its 3 inches, and they are within 21 feet, it is best to keep your mouth shut and be considerd ignorant, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.some one 21 feet from you can be on you swinging befor you can draw a weapon and defend your self making them a real thret. And yes she was 120 lb but cops are trained to keep shooting untill there is no longer a thret. that lady did not die from cops or bullets she died from stupidity pulling a knife on openly armed police now that is natural selection at work.

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Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:28 pm 
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MetroGirl
F L I N T O I D

Black or white, upper or lowerclass, any death should be considered as a tragedy. No one life is more deserving of another.

As a society now desensitized to the loss of human life, we forget that there's now a family without a mother, and a cop that has to live with this for the rest of his or her life. Please be reminded of this when making such ridiculous comments. No one deserves to die, really...nor should a cop have to be in such danger where he or she has to use deadly force.

In any city where poverty looms, drug use and alcoholism have become a way of life for those disenfranchised by their economic situtations, instances such as this have become more commonplace.

It sucks all the way around...

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Velda Garcia
Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:21 pm 
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Josh Freeman
F L I N T O I D

I am a bit astounded here. You folks are saying that we are better off that a human was shot 5 times because the two male police officers felt threatened by a 5' 6" 120lb drunk woman with a 3 inch knife.

I heard something at the Council meeting last night that seemed to ring true. I think that folks would have been more outraged had the police shot a dog in the middle of the street.

The idea that because this mother was poor, lived in a trailer park and was intoxicated that she takes on less than human qualities is absurd.

"loss of a drunk piece of trailer trash?"

"Quit blaming the police for everything, they did there job as they are trained to do."

Jeez man.. with comments like this, perhaps there really is no hope for Flint. We have become so jaded in this town that we try to justify the killing of a drunk women by 2 male police officers. I don't think that this woman deserved to die. She made a mistake.

She is the one that called to police for help. Think about that the next time you are in a sticky situation and call the police for help. Are they going to be fearful of you and your situation?
Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:29 pm 
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Adam
F L I N T O I D

It might be helpful if our police had tasers or a police dog. Whether justified or not with tasers or police dogs this woman might still be alive. If tasers would be a benefit to our police and/or our citizens than police should have them.

Another issue is police missed 3 times from pretty close range. One week our officers were fired upon 3 times. I think the suspects got away. Our police should be able to defend themselves with better accuracy than 5/8 at close range.

It might also be nice if our police had better equipment so if they do need to defend themselves in a situation like this or much worse they can better defend themselves and so so with less risk to innocent bystanders.

At the council meeting the council was wanting to pay for the burial of this woman but I guess the ward accounts council members have now have to get approved by the mayor befor council people can spend the money allocated to them.

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Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:06 pm 
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Bossman
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Wow Josh, I understand your disapproval of some of the posts that bashed the woman that was shot, but how can you not justify the actions of the police. Do you think it is reasonable that they should have to risk their life or serious injury because she makes a poor choice. If she wanted the police there, then why did she swing a knife at the officers in an agressive manner and continue to advance on them after they ordered her to drop the weapon at gunpoint? It is standard practice in police training to shoot an agressor with a knife anywhere inside of 21 feet. It doesn't matter if the agressor is 3 feet tall or 7 feet tall or if the knife is 3 inches or 3 feet. Edged weapons experts will tell you that the best trained professional WILL get cut if they attempt to disarm a person with an edged weapon, even if the threat is not skilled. Also officers are trained to continue to fire at an assailant until the threat is subdued. People that are shot do not react like the movies and fly backwards or drop immediately. Most will continue their actions, at least momentarily, and those that are emotionally or chemically impaired may continue well beyond the norm.
As for the inaccuracy of the officers shots, there may be many factors. First is the adrenaline and the fact that the initial shots were a reaction. Also bear in mind that the police department no longer has a working gun range for practice since the airport authority closed the Flint Police Range over some erroneous accusations by an airport employee. This means that instead of monthly handgun qualifications the officers only shoot maybe once a year.
Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:22 pm 
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Biggie9
F L I N T O I D

quote:
Adam schreef:
It might be helpful if our police had tasers or a police dog. Whether justified or not with tasers or police dogs this woman might still be alive. If tasers would be a benefit to our police and/or our citizens than police should have them.

Another issue is police missed 3 times from pretty close range. One week our officers were fired upon 3 times. I think the suspects got away. Our police should be able to defend themselves with better accuracy than 5/8 at close range.

It might also be nice if our police had better equipment so if they do need to defend themselves in a situation like this or much worse they can better defend themselves and so so with less risk to innocent bystanders.

At the council meeting the council was wanting to pay for the burial of this woman but I guess the ward accounts council members have now have to get approved by the mayor befor council people can spend the money allocated to them.


Adam,
Its pretty easy to say they should have...they should have....done this done that....from the comparative safety of our PCs.

But unless you HAVE faced someone wielding a weapon, AND KNOW personally what a person is capable of, I'd suggest you talk to both police and military personnel who know, train and perhaps have experienced that specific situation. Don't believe the fantasy on TV. The adrenaline starts pumping, your focus narrows down with tunnel vision, heart pounding, breath rate escalating, with the thought each moment could be your last,...tell me who well your deliberate thought process works and how well your aim works.
Ask any person in combat how easy it is to kill someone [regardless] of range when they are trying to kill you back.

Frankly I'm surprised they hit her 5 out of 8 shots...she must have been pretty damn close when they finally hit her.

Please do some research on hit vs rounds fired of incidents or military battles ...you'll find the casualty rate/rounds expended is quite often 1 hit per thousands of rounds expended. Same with police incidents, when they've done shoot outs, dozens, scores of rounds expended and NO hits.

As CLint Eastwood's charcter responded in the movie "Unforgiven" to the dying Little Bill, gasping out his last breath on the bar room floor that he didn't deserve such an end..."Derserve ain't got nothing do with it"....

Sadly this women was NOT an innocent victim, she placed herself in harm's way deliberately with each choice and action she took.

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Biggie
Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:31 pm 
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Ponycar
F L I N T O I D

one study that I read about ( don't remember who did the study)showed that most police officers score 90-95 % hits in training. That is at a stationary paper target from a standing position with no stress. In a real life or death situation when the stress level is up, and the pucker factor kicks in, it goes from 90-95% to an average 13% hits. Based on that study, I would say that the Flint police officers far exceeded the average.

You make a greta point Velda Garcia. The loss of life is indeed a tragedy regardless of ones social status, gender, race, or religion. It really is a bad siuation for all involved.
Post Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:39 pm 
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Joe
F L I N T O I D

I know those smaller people can get very intoxicated at only
120 pounds.I am not the gay joe who is posting,Im not gay.
If she lived she would have been faceing some serious charges
going toward Police Officers in a threatning manner carrying a knife.
Nothing gets a person out of a crime just because there drunk.
Drunks can be deceptivly quick an she could have stuck someone.
Suppose she stuck someone with the Police there then the Police would
have faced the heat for that.My opinion the Flint Police are the least
violent from what Ive witnessed.Burton an Mt.Morris Police are the most hair
trigger Police in the area from what Ive read an seen. Exclamation
Post Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:32 am 
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Josh Freeman
F L I N T O I D

quote:
Bossman schreef:
Wow Josh, I understand your disapproval of some of the posts that bashed the woman that was shot, but how can you not justify the actions of the police. Do you think it is reasonable that they should have to risk their life or serious injury because she makes a poor choice. If she wanted the police there, then why did she swing a knife at the officers in an agressive manner and continue to advance on them after they ordered her to drop the weapon at gunpoint? It is standard practice in police training to shoot an agressor with a knife anywhere inside of 21 feet. It doesn't matter if the agressor is 3 feet tall or 7 feet tall or if the knife is 3 inches or 3 feet. Edged weapons experts will tell you that the best trained professional WILL get cut if they attempt to disarm a person with an edged weapon, even if the threat is not skilled. Also officers are trained to continue to fire at an assailant until the threat is subdued. People that are shot do not react like the movies and fly backwards or drop immediately. Most will continue their actions, at least momentarily, and those that are emotionally or chemically impaired may continue well beyond the norm.
As for the inaccuracy of the officers shots, there may be many factors. First is the adrenaline and the fact that the initial shots were a reaction. Also bear in mind that the police department no longer has a working gun range for practice since the airport authority closed the Flint Police Range over some erroneous accusations by an airport employee. This means that instead of monthly handgun qualifications the officers only shoot maybe once a year.


I certainly respect your professional view of this situation. I should have waited until the outcome of the investigation until I formed a complete opinion about the incident rather than being knee-jerk.

It is upsetting to me that folks were simply writing the incident off because of who the person was. I hope that folks haven't moved on and forgotten about this incident if it is discovered that some protocol was not properly followed and it is allowed to be swept under the rug. I certainly have no confidence in the leadership of the police department, nor its ability to conduct or interperet an investigation that it handles.
Post Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:08 pm 
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