Man fights deputy, threatens to kill him

Published 5:54 pm Friday, July 6, 2012

A 42-year-old Bainbridge man fought with a deputy and threatened to kill him last Monday, according to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office.

Bainbridge Public Safety had initially located Joseph A. Burke, 42, at about 2 a.m. on Monday morning after his family had reported him missing and were concerned about his welfare. BPS officers had to use a Taser on Burke to prevent him from being violent, Sheriff Wiley Griffin said.

Burke was taken to Memorial Hospital for a mental health evaluation. Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie Emanuel was then given the duty of transporting Burke from Bainbridge to a mental health facility in Thomasville, Ga.

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While traveling through Grady County near the small town of Whigham, Burke became aggressive and kicked out the rear windows of Emanuel’s patrol car, Griffin said. As Burke began trying to kick open a rear door, the deputy stopped the car and opened the rear door of the patrol car in an attempt to keep Burke from harming himself.

Burke fought with the deputy and, at one point, broke Emanuel’s gun holster in an attempt to grab his gun. However, Burke never got his hands on the gun.

According to Griffin, Burke stated that he “had to kill [Emanuel].”
Emanuel used his cell phone to call 911 and was able to hold down Burke until backup could arrive. Two Grady County Sheriff’s deputies and a Whigham, Ga., police officer helped subdue Burke.

Burke is currently being held at a mental hospital in Thomasville. Upon his release, he will be charged in Grady County with assault on an officer and damaging government property (felony), Griffin said. Griffin said other charges may be pending in Decatur County, once an investigation is complete.

Undersheriff Wendell Cofer said the Sheriff’s Office probably handles 600-700 mental health patient transfers each year.

“They’re one of the most dangerous things we do on a routine basis,” Cofer said. “Sometimes you deal with individuals who have a diminished mental capacity and delusional thoughts, and that can present a risk to the deputies who transport them.”

Cofer noted that former Decatur County deputy Lt. James M. West Sr. was killed in the line of duty in 1980 when a female mental patient stabbed him to death. The woman’s family had requested assistance in transporting the woman to a state mental hospital and West, who was 56 at the time, responded to her home.