edited by Richard Cohen
Cinematography by Baird Bryant, Chris Beaver
Sound Recording by Don Sanders, Carol Yasunaga
Full credits available with DVD.
$39 home video/DVD for personal use $119 college, university, institution and business with PPR
On the morning of August 4, 1977, Sgt. Kurt Barz of the
Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division stopped his car to investigate Ron
Burkholder, a naked
unarmed man on a Los Angeles street corner. Within two minutes, Burkholder lay dead, shot
The use of 'deadly force' is a recurring and divisive issue in communities across the
nation. This powerful and provocative documentary examines police accountability for
civilian fatalities by zeroing in on a case that rocked city hall, stirred national press
and resulted in the re-writing of gun policy for LAPD officers.
Deadly Force follows the Burkholder killing through a coroner's inquest and investigation by the district attorney's office. It provides telling insights into the
conflicting views of police officials who defend the use of deadly force in dangerous situations and Burkholder's friends and relatives who charge authorities with engineering
"A gripping and persuasive investigation...really a troubling, thoughtful inquiry into the wider subject of police brutality and the whole relationship
between society and its custodians of order. ...Chilling, real-life replicas of
thriller "Z" ." Tom Shales, THE WASHINGTON POST read more...
"A devastating documentary" Linda Gross,
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Fascinating and provocative. Rivals any detective
drama you've ever seen.
Remarkably done." Dick Brill, SAN FRANCISCO PROGRESS read more...
"Shocking impact" Zena Jones,
Francisco Bay Guardian
“Richard Cohen’s film Deadly Force (1980) presents a disquieting probe into the explosive issue of police use of deadly force. The film is the first complete documentary examination of a police shooting. ...As a classroom supplement the film is sure to generate lively and provocative discussion.”
DEADLY FORCE Larry Trujillo, Critical Sociology read more...
"A major contribution to the discussion and debate in this highly explosive area...powerful." Lee Weinberg, Professor of Legal Studies &
Administration of Justice, University
of Pittsburgh read more...
"Unsettling ...one of the most sensational shootings in
recent Los Angeles history...tough, probing questions." Joel Sappell, investigative reporter,
LOS ANGELES HERALD EXAMINER
"Anatomy of a police shooting..."
TV GUIDE Close Up read more...
Production Grants were received from:
THE INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARY FUND
which is supported by the FORD FOUNDATION
and the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS,
THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE in association with
the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS,
KCET Channel 28 Los Angeles.
A production of Hound Dog Films
in association with The Television Laboratory at WNET/13
copyright 1980 Hound Dog Films Limited Partnership Richard B. Cohen.
Broadcast on PBS's Non Fiction Television.