Updated as of 4/7/2022 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey recently announced the five officers involved in the death of Jim Rogers have been fired following an internal investigation. They have appealed the decision to arbitration, reported WPXI News. However, Jim Rogers’ estate has filed a lawsuit against the officers involved as well as the paramedics and the city.
Gainey said the officers would have the option to retire or appeal. WPXI reported a panel of three - one union member, one command staff member and neutral third party - will decide if the officers will remain terminated or be reinstated to their jobs.
Rogers, 54, was a suspect in the theft of a bicycle and died while in custody of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police October 13. According to CNN’s report, police said they used a Taser on Rogers because he was not “complying with their orders.” Rogers was tased 10 times resulting in him being taken to Mercy Hospital, where he died the next day. The medical examiner ruled his death as an accident due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, per WTAE.
James Frierson, administrator of the estate, filed the suit against the city of Pittsburgh, 11 officers and two paramedics in the U.S. District Court, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The suit claims the use of a Taser on Rogers was unnecessary and used “without cause or justification.” Rogers posed no threat to the officers, per the suit.
More on the suit from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The suit raises numerous civil rights claims, including excessive force, medical indifference, false arrest, assault, due process violations and negligent training for officers.
The excessive force claim is based on the contention that the incident started because of a minor complaint — “stealing a bike at most, taking a free bike with permission off a porch, at the least,” the suit says.
The suit also says Officer Edmonds has a “history of tasering individuals for minor” matters in violation of police Taser policy and the city hasn’t disciplined him.
The defendants are listed as Officers Keith Edmonds, Matt Gauntner, Patrick DeSaro, Gregory Boss, Jeffrey Dean, Paul Froehlich, Neyib Velazquez, Colby Neidig, Carol Ehlinger, Leroy Schrock and Robert Pedley. The two paramedics are listed as John Doe’s.
The internal review board found “a series of procedural failures” contributed to Roger’s death, reported CNN. The investigation was initially contested by the Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas. The county grand jury must decide whether the officers involved could face criminal charges.
An internal Critical Incident Review Board examined the incident and the police bureau’s trainings and recommended a supervisor be present during a use of force situation and that an EMS be allowed to assess patients after the use of Tasers, per CNN.
“Mr. Rogers deserved to live ... a long life. And he didn’t deserve to lose his life at the hands of police officers. What his life could have been will stay with me for as long as I am the mayor of this city,” said Gainey via CNN.