Officer James Burns was fired from the Atlanta police department earlier this month after the June killing of 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers.
According to the internal investigation, Officer Burns had no idea who was even inside the car he shot into as he opened fire, killing Deravis.
via NY Daily News:
The three-year department veteran did not know if the suspect he was chasing was inside the car and fired at it as it drove away from — not toward — the cop, according to a report released Wednesday.
“He had no idea who was in the vehicle. He had no idea if that was the vehicle he should be concerned with. He just discharged his weapon,” Sgt. Warren Pickard told 11 Alive News. “The officer simply acted in a way that we cannot support.”
Georgia’s Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting for any possible criminal violation.
“It’s a murder,” Deravis Thomas, Rogers’ dad, told the TV station. “It’s a murder and we need justice for that. He needs to be indicted and prosecuted,”
Burns was called to an apartment complex in northeast Atlanta on June 22 after an off-duty cop reported a suspicious person allegedly breaking into cars in the parking lot, according to a copy of the investigation report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As the cop pulled into the parking lot, he spotted a car driving away from the lot. He put on his cruisers’ lights and sirens, and parked in a position to stop the exiting driver.
But the sedan — with Rogers at the wheel — drove past Burns’ squad car. That’s when the officer got out of his car, yelled for the driver to stop and opened fire, the investigation showed.
Rogers, who was shot in the head, died at the scene.
Burns admitted he didn’t know who was inside the car when he opened fire, but insisted he pulled his weapon because the car was racing toward him and he feared for his life.
“I shot at the car who was trying to run me over and kill me,” he told investigators days after the shooting.
But police officials rejected Burns’ claims, and instead said Rogers was trying to drive away from the cop, not toward him. Pickard said evidence, including dash cam videos, showed there was no obvious threat to Burns.
“You did not have reasonable suspicion that the driver of the vehicle engaged in, or was about to engage in, criminal activity,” Atlanta Police Chief George N. Turner wrote in a memo. “Yet rather than allow the driver to drive past you, you exited your vehicle and ultimately prevented the driver from driving away through the use of deadly force.”
Firing is a start, but this sounds like criminal charges should be filed. Murder is murder.