The Atlanta Police department has announced the termination of Officer James R. Burns on Monday of this week related to the shooting of an unarmed and fleeing Black suspect. On June 22, 2016, an off duty officer working at an apartment complex observed a suspect identified as Deravis Caine Rogers, 22, allegedly breaking into a vehicle. The officer stated he called for backup and began to chase Rogers, who he stated got into a silver colored vehicle. When officers arrived at the scene, Burns, who was on duty, fired into the vehicle, hitting Rogers in the head. The car crashed a short distance away into a parked vehicle and Rogers was transported to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital where he later died.
After an Atlanta Police Department internal investigation, Burns’ actions that night were found to be unwarranted. Sgt. Warren Pickard, an APD spokesman stated to media, “The force used was ruled excessive because there was no obvious threat made toward the officer. Chief George Turner has always prioritized officer accountability and professional behavior…He will continue to take decisive action when necessary to hold his employees to the highest.”
Burns entered the Atlanta Police force as a cadet in 2013, and has no record of prior disciplinary actions. The family of Rogers told local media that they were pleased with his termination. However, the family still wants to see the officer face criminal charges.
Deravis Rogers has a troubled past that includes encounters and arrests with law enforcement. In 2014, he was convicted of two counts of entering autos and sentenced. In addition, he has faced previous charges of entering auto and drug charges, according to court records.The case against Burns is now under investigation by the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigations) who have not released any information. It is unknown at this time if Burns will face any criminal charges related to the death of Rogers.