The dead black male in this story was dishonored in death by the press. His name is misspelled in the story below. His true name is apparently Deravis Caine Rogers.
He was shot dead by Officer James Burns, who is now charged with MURDER. This case raises at least one interesting question.
First, the facts.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office announced an arrest warrant has been issued for former Atlanta Police Officer James Burns.
Officer James Burns fatally shot Devaris Rogers, a man suspected of breaking into a car more than two weeks ago in Midtown.
Atlanta officer fired after shooting, killing man in Midtown
Burns is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of violation of oath in the death.
This all started when an off-duty officer working security at this apartment complex called in for backup when he spotted a man breaking into a car.
When Burns arrived on scene, he said he spotted Rogers.
According to the officer, Rogers jumped into a car and tried to drive away when he opened fire and shot Rogers in the head.
Prosecutors say Rogers made no attempt to strike officers, and Burns was standing safely at the rear of his own squad car when shots were fired.
Police said the evidence suggests the officer fired his gun without really knowing who was in the car and when he opened fire, he violated the department’s policy.
Prosecutors say Burns wasn’t provided with any facts describing Rogers as a threat to the officer or the public.
Let’s back up and fill in the missing details:
Officer Burns told investigators he was responding as backup to reports of a person on foot, possibly breaking into cars inside the apartment complex. Burns said he came upon a car parked against traffic on the side of the street outside the apartments that appeared to be leaving.
Burns said he tried to block the vehicle, but it kept going and that he got out of his patrol car, expecting a foot chase.
Burns told internal affairs investigators, “He’s clearly made a decision to run me over…and kill me. And I’m thinking…I’ve gotta protect myself and everybody else around me.”
He said that’s when he fired into the car, killing Rogers.
The transcript indicates investigators asked the officer why he thought the person in the vehicle might be the break-in suspect, and he answered, “The last intel we had, this is where the suspect was running. Hew was jumping these fences. So everybody in the area was of interest.”
A memo from Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said, “The force you used against the suspect was unnecessary and unreasonable. The driver of the vehicle posed no immediate threat to you. The driver of the vehicle was not operating this vehicle in an erratic manner or at a high rate of speed. You did not have reasonable suspicion that the driver of the vehicle had engaged in, or was about to engage in criminal activity.”
Police also have dashcam video they said indicates the situation didn’t play out the way Burns described it. 11Alive has filed an open records request asking for that video. We’ve been told it won’t be released until after the GBI investigation is over.
Burns had only been with APD for about three years and had no other disciplinary incidents with the department.
Essentially, the murder charge revolves around what really happened. Let’s wait to see the video, but it appears that Officer James Burns either acted negligently or he deliberately fired his weapon, perhaps in a fit of temper, intending to kill Deravis. The video must really be damning for a murder charge to be instigated, rather than a manslaughter charge.
The interesting question revolves around police policy relating to the circumstances in which an officer is allowed to fire his weapon.
So, let’s put it as a question: Should police be allowed to shoot at suspects who are fleeing the scene of a crime? Should they fire warning shots first?
Recall that there are more whites killed by police than blacks.