Charges dropped against ex-Atlanta officer accused of killing unarmed black man 


Charges have been dropped against a former Atlanta police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man two years ago in northwest Atlanta.

The decision was made last week after Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said a recent U.S. Supreme Court case “declined to address the issue of whether certain statements, made by a police officer, could be used by the state in a grand jury proceeding.” 

Statements made by James R. Burns were utilized before the Fulton County grand jury, according to the DA’s office.

“Out of an abundance of caution, rather than seeking to litigate this issue further, we are simply choosing to re-indict the entire case,” Howard said in a statement obtained Friday by AJC.com. 

MORE COVERAGE: 

Atlanta officer fired as shooting at cars by police gets new scrutiny

New details in deadly police shooting of black man

Burns was arrested and charged with murder in the June 22, 2016, killing of Deravis Caine Rogers. On the night of the shooting, Burns arrived at the Monroe Place apartments shortly before midnight after an off-duty officer reported a suspicious person on foot at the complex. Upon arriving, Burns spotted the driver of a 2011 silver Ford Fusion turn on the headlights and start to drive away.

He tried to pull his patrol car into the middle of the road to block the vehicle. But the Ford, driven by Rogers, maneuvered around Burns’ patrol car. The officer then jumped from his vehicle, yelled stop and shot through the passenger side window of the Ford as it drove away. The bullet struck Rogers in lower right side of his head and his car careened down the road before striking a vehicle in the parking lot of Cirque Daiquiri Bar and Grill on Monroe Drive.

Rogers was pronounced dead that evening at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Burns told investigators that Rogers tried to run him over. But investigators reviewed dashcam video that captured part of what happened. Several witnesses were also interviewed and police determined the evidence did not support Burns’ version of events.

Howard reached a similar conclusion when his office charged Burns in July 2016. The car driven by Rogers posed no threat to Burns, according to a statement released at the time. 

Burns was fired a short time after the shooting. 

Despite the latest development, court documents filed last month indicate the prosecution’s case “remains strong.” 

Howard said the DA’s office is not dropping its commitment to fully prosecute the case. 

A date to present the case to a new grand jury has not been scheduled.

In other news:



Next Up in Local

New link in path through Buckhead under construction
New link in path through Buckhead under construction

A crucial link in a north-south bicycle and jogging path through the traffic-snarled heart of Buckhead is under construction, marked by a hole punched in a sound wall along Ga. 400. “It may not look like much, but this break in the sound wall on Ga. 400 is actually construction starting on the latest section of PATH400,” says an Instagram...
Man indicted on murder charge after 5-month-old son’s death
Man indicted on murder charge after 5-month-old son’s death

A Coweta County man was indicted on charges of felony murder and child cruelty more than a year after he was arrested in connection with the death of his 5-month-old son. A grand jury handed down the indictment against Christopher Halver-Gene Hansen earlier this month, Coweta County District Attorney Herb Cranford said. Hansen, 31, of Newnan,...
Suspect arrested in deadly DeKalb drug-related home invasion 
Suspect arrested in deadly DeKalb drug-related home invasion 

Gracie Beavers sat on the patio of her McClendon Drive home Sept. 30 smoking a cigarette. It was 2 a.m. and the 35-year-old was dozing off when she heard two men come into her backyard, according to a DeKalb County police report.  Moments later, as she wrestled with one of the men, she heard two gunshots, police said.  Her husband Teddy Mierzwa...
4 Americans killed in Costa Rica rafting accident
4 Americans killed in Costa Rica rafting accident

Four Americans were among five people killed Saturday in a rafting accident on a Costa Rica river, WPLG reported. >> Read more trending news  The U.S. Department of State confirmed the accident Sunday, the Miami Herald reported. The four men from South Florida were identified as Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo and Andres...
Michigan to Alpharetta: Wellness practice moving HQ to Avalon
Michigan to Alpharetta: Wellness practice moving HQ to Avalon

Avalon in Alpharetta isn’t just for shopping, dining and fun. The mixed-use development has become a home for healthcare too. Last week, Lile Wellness Partners, a preventative healthcare practice, announced that it was relocating its headquarters from Grosse Ile, Michigan to Avalon. It will host a grand opening celebration on Nov. 9 from 4 to...
More Stories