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Judge refers police officer for psychological evaluation

Appearing for her third time in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to face assault charges for shooting a fellow Toledo police sergeant, Gloria Burks was referred for a psychological evaluation Thursday.

Sergeant Burks, 50, is charged with felonious assault with a gun specification and an alternative charge of assault. If convicted, she faces up to 13 years in prison.

Thursday, her attorneys filed a written plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Judge Stacy Cook referred the sergeant to the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center for an assessment and set a March 1 hearing date.

Sergeant Burks was charged for the Sept. 20 shooting at Scott Park District Station in which Sgt. Jeffrey Bechtel was struck by a bullet that pierced his right arm near the shoulder. He remains on medical leave, Chief Mike Navarre said Thursday.

After the incident, Sergeant Burks was relieved of duty without pay. Completion of the internal investigation against Sergeant Burks will await the outcome of the criminal prosecution, Chief Navarre said.

“As an employee, per contract, when you have a criminal investigation pending and also an administrative investigation, you can elect to stop the internal investigation until the criminal investigation is completed as long as you take yourself off payroll,” he said, adding that Sergeant Burks exercised her contractual right to postpone the administrative procedures.

In a not guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea, the defense would have to prove that at the time of the offense she suffered from a “severe mental disease or defect” that prevented her from knowing the “wrongfulness” of her act.

In court, attorney Jane Roman told Judge Cook that Sergeant Burks was currently in the care of a physician.

The sergeant was hired in September, 1983, and is specially trained as a law enforcement instructor and critical-incident negotiator and in community-oriented policing. She has been on light duty periodically in the last three years because of medical problems, including brain seizures and a stroke since coronary bypass surgery in July, 2007, according to personnel-file information.

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