On Tuesday, a new video was released detailing the 2016 shooting death of an unarmed Black man by an Atlanta Police officer.
AJC reports that lawyers for Deravis Caine Rogers’ family released the video in an attempt to get the City of Atlanta to settle an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit. The dashcam video shows former Officer James Burns responding to a call about a suspicious person on foot. He pulls into the Monroe Place apartments just as Rogers is driving away. Burns activates his sirens as Rogers is driving off but Rogers continues to drive. Burns then gets out of his car, yells “stop,” and then fires a shot through Rogers’ passenger window, striking him.
Burns admitted to investigators that he fired at Rogers without knowing if he was even the suspicious person that he was looking for, but added he did so because he “feared for his safety.”
Nothing screams danger like a person driving away from you, I suppose.
“(Rogers) posed no threat to James Burns or anyone else,” Shean Williams, lead attorney for Rogers’ family, told AJC. Co-counsel Sam Starks believes the only thing Rogers was guilty of was “driving while Black.” Burns was eventually charged with felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violating his oath of office in 2018. The criminal case has yet to go to trial.
Starks and Williams have been critical of the way the case has been handled by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and her predecessor Kasim Reed. Williams told AJC that both mayors have failed to “take responsibility for injustices done by police officers in this city.”
“While she has talked tough, she has done very little as far as reforming (the) police,” Starks added in regards to Bottoms.
“The fact that this incident occurred in 2016, before I was Mayor, yet remains unresolved four years later, only highlights the need for urgent action and reform,” Bottoms, who was a city councilwoman at the time of the shooting, told AJC. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Caine Rogers and every other family awaiting justice,” Bottoms added.
Deravis Thomas, Rogers’ father, has said that the family has yet to receive an apology or even condolences from the city.
“The city has yet to acknowledge us, in any capacity,” Thomas told AJC.