Fulton County, GA – Recently fired from the Atlanta Police Department for gunning down an innocent driver, a former cop was indicted Wednesday night on multiple charges including murder, making a false statement, and violating his oath of office. Although the ex-cop reported that the driver was attempting to run him over when he opened fire, investigators determined his claims were false after reviewing dashcam footage and witness statements.
Shortly before midnight on June 22, Officer James Burns responded to a call from an off-duty cop reporting a suspicious person breaking into cars. Arriving at the scene in his patrol car, Burns hit his lights and siren immediately after seeing a 2011 Ford Fusion driving towards him.
Burns suddenly exited his vehicle and fired a single bullet into the head of 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers. According to Burns, Rogers ignored his order to “Stop!” before gunning his engine and attempting to run him down with the sedan. Blinded by the headlights and fearing for his life, Burns claimed that he killed Rogers in self-defense.
“He clearly made a decision to run me over, you know, and kill me,” Rogers told investigators. “And I’m thinking about, you know, I gotta protect myself.”
But according to police dashcam video and eyewitnesses, Rogers had been driving toward Burns’ passenger side and made no attempt to harm the officer. Rogers was actually driving away from Burns when the officer shot him through the side of his Fusion.
An internal affairs investigation found that Burns had no reason to suspect Rogers of criminal activity before using unnecessary and unreasonable force. After Burns was fired from the department in July, APD Sgt. Warren Pickard admitted that no evidence existed of any cars that were burglarized or stolen that night anywhere near the vicinity.
“The officer simply acted in a way that we cannot support,” Sgt. Pickard told 11 Alive News. “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.”
After listening to eight hours of testimony on Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Burns on charges of murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, making a false statement, and two counts of violating his oath of office. According to Shean Williams, an attorney for the victim’s mother, the grand jury only deliberated for five minutes.
“As the parents of Caine Rogers, we are grateful that the Grand Jury has returned an indictment against Officer James Burns,” the victim’s parents, Deravis Thomas and Melva Rogers, said in a recent statement. “We would like to thank the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for its hard work, and also the community for all of its love and support as we continue on this journey towards justice for Caine. We are very pleased with this outcome and though nothing can bring our son back, we know this is a powerful first step.”