Former Atlanta police officer James Burns was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury for his involvement in the killing of Deravis Rogers. In total, Burns was indicted for charges of felony murder, aggravated assault, making a false statement and two counts of violation of oath of office.
On June 22, Burns responded to a call from an off-duty officer reporting a suspicious person in an Atlanta apartment complex. Rogers was driving in a 2011 Ford Fusion when Burns arrived on the scene. Burns attempted to block the vehicle in the complex even though Rogers was never described as posing any particular threat.
Burns then fired his weapon into the vehicle and hit Rogers in the head. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard argued that Burns acted too quickly to make a decision that resulted in Rogers’s death.
Burns’s defense attorney, Drew Findling, argued that Burns felt that Rogers was coming towards him in his vehicle and that his life was in danger. However, based on the evidence presented, it became clear that Burns knew very little about the situation before he decided to shoot.
A dashcam video revealed the Rogers was simply sitting in his car at the moment of the shooting.
Last month, Rogers’s mother, Melva Rogers, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Burns and the city. Burns violated Rogers’s civil rights by using excessive and deadly force and failing to grant him due process, the lawsuit says.
This indictment comes after many officers have evaded indictment after using deadly or excessive force on unarmed Black men.
(Photo: Tim Flach/Getty Images)