One of the most infamous police pursuits in Lowcountry history will be profiled this month in a new Biography channel television series that chronicles dangerous, high-speed chases.
The series, titled "Why I Ran," will feature the case of West Ashley's Ron Burris in a half-hour episode scheduled for Monday. The show aims to get inside the minds of people who lead police on hair-raising pursuits.
Driving a stolen car in August 1999, Burris led officers from three jurisdictions on a winding and treacherous chase that lasted several hours before ending in West Ashley in a hail of police bullets. Thirteen rounds pierced Burris' body, leaving him critically wounded. He recovered, only to spend the next 4 1/2 years behind bars.
Burris, 40, holds no grudges. In fact, he maintains that police had every right to shoot him. He credits the episode with helping him turn his life around. He kicked a crack cocaine habit that had derailed his life for 15 years. He rediscovered his faith, found his bearings and recommitted himself to his church, his family and the wife who refused to leave him.
Burris said he was happy to oblige when contacted by the show's producers. "I don't mind sharing my story, and if I can help someone else by doing that — great," he said. "It's not good to run from the police like that. You put a lot of people at risk."
His reasons for running were fairly simple. "I ran because I could. The drugs were a little bit more powerful than the blue lights."
Kevin Dill, executive producer of the show for Intuitive Entertainment, said he was particularly taken by Burris' efforts to redeem himself in the wake of the chase and the resulting prison stint. "He really used the experience to rebuild his life," he said. "It's a heroic story."
More than four years after his release, Burris remains sober and active in his church. He has a solid marriage, a young daughter and another child on the way. He also runs a growing landscaping and construction business.
In Monday's episode, Burris helps deconstruct the chase for viewers. A North Charleston police officer involved in the pursuit also weighs in. For Burris, it was his first time seeing some of the video footage from that day.
"I was like 'Wait a minute, did I just go through a school zone at 125 mph?' " he said. "Wow. I just could not believe I did that."