On Duty ATFE Agent Tasered by Columbus Police Officers: Excessive Force?
According to reporting by Bethany Bruner in the The Columbus Dispatch, Agent James Burk, a 16-year veteran of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was Tasered multiple times by Columbus Ohio Police officers and taken into custody while attempting to seize a gun from a local resident.
Agent James Burk has filed a federal lawsuit accusing two Columbus police officers of using excessive force. Burke claims in the lawsuit that on July 7, 2020 he went to a citizen’s home to retrieve a shotgun from a person who was not permitted to have a firearm. Burk had no police markings except an ID card around his neck.
When he knocked on the door of the home, a person inside called 911 while refusing to open the door. Responding Columbus Police Officer Fihe immediately drew his weapon and pointed it at Burke while simultaneously screaming at him to get on the ground.
P4 Exclusive: It appears that this same ATFE agent Burk, is an alleged wine thief…
Burk claimed in the law suit that he had seized many guns before under similar circumstances and never had a problem. This time, the dispatcher told the 911 caller not to answer the door and dispatched Columbus police officers Joseph Fihe and Kevin Winchell, both 20-year veterans.
The law suit claims that Officer Fihe pointed his firearm at Burk, used a Taser on Burk multiple times while he was face down and that both Fihe and Winchell “climbed on his back while violently twisting and pulling his arms to handcuff him.”
After about an hour, Burk was released without charges. Burk has since moved to an administrative role because of the incident. According to sources who have viewed the body cam footage, it shows the first officer on scene told ATF agent James Burk to put his hands up and then drew his gun. Burk repeatedly identified himself as a federal agent and offered to show his badge. The officer tells him to keep his hands in the air. Another officer who arrived on the scene also pointed his gun at Burk. The officers then tasered him and handcuffed him.
The lawsuit said body cameras captured much of the incident and alleges that the footage was shared within the police department for no apparent purpose. I can’t wait to see the body camera footage.
Featured photo: Body camera footage from Columbus police officer Joseph Fihe shows James Burk, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, pointing at his badge. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.