On June 22, 2016, an off duty Atlanta police officer working at an apartment complex observed a suspect identified as Deravis Caine Rogers, 22, allegedly breaking into a vehicle. Rogers had 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. When police backup arrived, James R. Burns was one of the responding officers. Rogers was fleeing the scene in another vehicle when Burns 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 and he was fired. 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.”
Family, friends and activists demanded more than a termination and yesterday they received great news. A Fulton County, Georgia grand jury indicted Burns on charges of murder, aggravated assault, two counts of violating his oath of office and one count of making a false statement. The decision came after activists held a 24-hour rally outside the Fulton County Courthouse to draw attention to police shootings. During the rally, activists demanded that Burns be indicted and when word finally came of the grand jury decision, the crowd was ecstatic. The family is being represented by the Cochran Law Firm.