Officer #JamesBurns joined #Atlanta’s police force in 2013. However in 2016, he made a decision that cost him his job, and could possibly cost him his freedom.
Burns is accused of shooting and killing 22 year Deravis Caine Rogers. On June 22, Burns was called to an apartment complex in northeast Atlanta to assist an off duty officer who saw a suspicious person thought to be breaking into vehicles. The person fled on foot. As Burns arrived at the apartment complex, he saw a car parked on the wrong side of the road that began pulling away from the curb. The car started driving toward his patrol car and the officer turned on his blue lights and chirped his siren, positioning his police cruiser to stop the car. According to Burns, he feared for his life when the vehicle drove towards him.
“I didn’t know to block that particular car,” Burns told investigators in an interview one week after the shooting, his attorney by his side. “I shot at the car who was trying to run me over and kill me.”
Burns admitted to investigators that he shot through the passenger side window, without knowing whether the driver was the person he was even called to investigate. However, after further investigation, it turns out that Burns’ version of events wasn’t accurate.
Evidence, including a pair of dashcam videos and eye witnesses, contradict the Burns’ claims. According to the evidence, Rogers, the driver of the vehicle, attempted to drive past the patrol car on the officer’s passenger side, which means Burns, who was inside of his vehicle, was never in any immediate danger. Video also shows Burns jumping out of his car, slamming his door and yelling at Rogers to stop. Burns, who says he was blinded by Rogers headlights, fired one shot into Rogers’ vehicle, striking him in the head. Rogers’ vehicle continued to coast before hitting a parked SUV.
“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 said in his 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.”
James Burns was fired from the Atlanta Police Department and now faces criminal charges including felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violation of his oath of office.
Deravis Rogers was unarmed when he was killed.