The man who died in a shootout with Spokane police on New Year’s Eve was identified Thursday as 33-year-old Ira Shawn Buroker.
His name was withheld until authorities were able to notify his relatives.
The shooting remained under investigation by city police and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, but Police Chief Roger Bragdon has said Buroker fired one shot and was getting ready to shoot again when two officers shot him to death.
Bragdon said patrolmen Alan Edwards and Gene Baldwin were attempting to arrest Buroker after he behaved suspiciously and refused to keep his hands out of his pockets at an East Sprague parking lot. He said the officers moved in to restrain Buroker after he fished a portable radio out of a pocket, clicked the microphone button and reached back into his pockets.
Buroker resisted, and the three wound up wrestling on the ground. Bragdon said Buroker fired one shot from a single-action Ruger .22-caliber revolver while face down on the ground with an officer slightly above him on each side.
The chief said Buroker cocked his gun again and tried to push himself up with one hand, but Baldwin and Edwards moved back slightly and opened fire within seconds. An autopsy showed Buroker died at the scene of eight bullets in his lower back and a shoulder, Bragdon said.
Court records show Buroker was wanted for forgery and for breaking probation on a conviction for assaulting a Spokane police corporal by threatening him with a 3-foot knife in September 2000. State Department of Corrections officials said Buroker failed to report for supervision in Chehalis, Wash., where he reportedly moved after serving an eight-month jail sentence on the third-degree ass“ault conviction.
Buroker has five convictions in Washington and North Carolina for assault, illegal possession of a firearm, theft, vehicle theft and driving with a suspended license.
He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in November 2000, a month after he lunged at Spokane Police Cpl. James Muzatko with a knife. Buroker dared Muzatko to shoot him, leading to speculation that he was seeking what often is called “police-assisted suicide.”
Buroker reinforced the speculation in a jailhouse interview with The Spokesman-Review.
“I gave him (the officer) lots of opportunities to cap me,” he said. “If I had pulled a 3-foot knife on a cop, it might have been because I wanted him to do a job that someone else couldn’t do.”
But court documents suggest Buroker was trying to escape from Muzatko, not to get shot. He broke into four apartments in the 1400 block of North Lincoln in an attempt to outrun Muzatko. With directions from two people whose apartments were invaded, the officer caught Buroker on a stairway.
Muzatko pushed Buroker against a railing and told him he was under arrest, but Buroker responded with an obscene remark that indicated he didn’t intend to cooperate. The officer felt a metal object in Buroker’s waistband and pushed him away for safety reasons, court records say.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Buroker drew the knife and lunged a couple of times at Muzatko, taunting the officer to “come and get it.” When Muzatko backed up and drew his pistol, Buroker said, “OK, go ahead and shoot me,” court records say.
Buroker then ran through two more apartments and a laundry room with Muzatko in pursuit. Buroker fled the building and eventually was taken into custody by two other officers.
The incident began when Muzatko responded to a report that shots had been fired in the 2400 block of West Sinto at about 3 a.m. Muzatko spotted Buroker pedaling away from the shooting scene on a bicycle with what Muzatko described as “a panicked look in his eyes.” Buroker later claimed someone had been shooting at him.
More recently, Buroker was wanted for allegedly trying to cash a bogus $120 check. He was charged last June with forging a blank check that was stolen a month earlier when a Spokane woman’s home was burglarized.
Monday’s fatal shooting occurred after Officers Edwards and Baldwin spotted Buroker leaving a suspected drug house just outside city limits. Buroker was a passenger in a car driven by a mother and daughter who claimed not to know him.
The officers attempted to stop Buroker when the car turned abruptly into a parking lot, and he got out and started walking away rapidly.