Lawyers: New video shows no threat posed to APD officer in 2016 shooting

Video of a 2016 police shooting appears to show no provocation and no apparent danger to the officer who killed 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers, lawyers for his family say.

The legal team released the video Tuesday in hopes it might force a settlement in its wrongful death lawsuit filed against the City of Atlanta. Lead attorney Shean Williams said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and her predecessor, Kasim Reed, have repeatedly 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,” said co-counsel Sam Starks.

Bottoms was a city councilwoman in 2016 when Rogers was shot in the head by now-former Officer James Burns, who had responded to an off-duty officer’s report of a suspicious person on foot at the Monroe Place apartments.

“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 said Tuesday. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Caine Rogers and every other family awaiting justice.”

Rogers’ parents are still waiting for the criminal case to go to trial. Burns is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violating his oath of office.

The video shows Burns arriving at the apartment building just as Rogers turned on the headlights of his 2011 Ford Fusion and started to drive away. Burns flipped on his siren and blue lights, attempting to stop the vehicle, but Rogers continued driving. The former officer, fired days after the incident, jumped out of his cruiser, yelled “stop” then shot through the passenger side window, striking Rogers, the video shows.

“(Rogers) posed no threat to James Burns or anyone else,” Williams said.

He was guilty only of only one thing, Starks said: “Driving while black.”

Burns told investigators that he shot into Rogers’ car without knowing whether the driver was the “suspicious person” wanted by police. He defended his actions, saying he feared for his safety.

Rogers’ father, Deravis Thomas, said no one from the city has ever reached out to their family to offer and apology or even condolences.

“The city has yet to acknowledge us, in any capacity,” Thomas said.

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