‘That’s not Rogers.’ Family, friends grieve man shot to death by Atlanta police officer

Rogers Kyaruzi, 30, was shot to death by an off-duty Atlanta police officer. Photo provided to the AJC.

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Rogers Kyaruzi, 30, was shot to death by an off-duty Atlanta police officer. Photo provided to the AJC.

Family and friends of the man shot to death by an off-duty Atlanta police officer on Wednesday remember him as laid back, successful and devoted husband to his wife and loving father to their 5-year-old son. Rogers Kyaruzi was 30. The GBI is investigating.

“I was shocked. I was in disbelief,” said Myra Yorke, Kyaruzi’s sister, during a phone interview on Thursday. “I don’t know what was going on. We don’t have many details. We are still waiting for an investigation.

According to the GBI face sheet, Officer Lawrence Holland was working an approved extra job in uniform and wearing a body camera at a nearby business when he was called to the Roasters Rotisserie restaurant in the Lenox Village shopping center. According to the GBI, Kyaruzi had been “expressing odd behavior prior to the incident and had followed a patron into Roasters where Kyaruzi was causing a disturbance.” Holland approached Kyaruzi and tried to get him to step outside, where a struggle over the Holland’s gun ensued, authorities said.

Holland shot Kyaruzi, who died after being taken to the hospital. A witness told Channel 2 Action News Kyaruzi had been shot multiple times.

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Yorke said her brother was fun to be around and very career driven, becoming a self-made millionaire before turning 30. Kyaruzi owned a video-sharing website, Flyheight.com, and was also involved in real estate, Yorke said.

“My brother was an immigrant. He came here as a child from Tanzania,” Yorke said. “He came to American to live the American dream and that is what he did. My brother had everything going for him.”

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Rogers Kyaruzi. Photo provided to the AJC

Credit: Family photo

Rogers Kyaruzi. Photo provided to the AJC

Credit: Family photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Rogers Kyaruzi. Photo provided to the AJC

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

Furly Mac was checking Facebook early Thursday morning at his home in California when he saw people talking about Kyaruzi. He quickly began to look for more information and learned about the shooting.

“I just couldn’t believe it. I just talked to him a week ago,” Mac said in a phone interview. “That’s not Rogers. You have to provoke Rogers to get a reaction out of him. He was literally a gentle giant, loved to laugh, loved to smile. I have never seen him fuss, cuss or anything.”

Mac, who is an actor, said he met Kyaruzi when he was 15. He credits Kyaruzi as the reason he has an acting career, which includes appearances in “The United States vs. Billie Holliday,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Empire”.

“Rogers was an amazing individual, was very smart. I’m a comedian actor. Rogers was one of my sponsors that helped support my career. Rogers helped me make that happen,” Mac said. “When I was homeless, Rogers helped me out. When I was stuck in different states, Rogers helped me out.”

Mac said he would talk to Kyaruzi regularly, often about his wife Niteecha Kyaruzi and their son, Raja.

“He loved his son,” Mac said. “His son will have to live the rest of his life without his father, who is actively in his life. Rogers wasn’t a temporary father, he didn’t (go) to see his son every now and then, he was in his son’s life every day, every chance he got. He was a great father.”

Troy Hill has been friends with Kyaruzi for more than 20 years. They grew up together in Warner Robins and went to the same school. Hill described Kyaruzi as a cool and laid back person who changed a lot once his son was born. A couple of months ago, Hill said Kyaruzi began doing mixed martial arts and had become very good at it. Yorke said he had started to do mixed martial arts to stay in shape and had recently competed and won some local competitions.

He had spoken to Kyaruzi two days before Yorke contacted him to tell him her brother had been shot to death.

“He was telling me about his rental apartment that he just bought,” Hill said.

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Rogers Kyaruzi was a devoted father, friends and family members say. Photo provided to the AJC.

Credit: Family photo

Rogers Kyaruzi was a devoted father, friends and family members say. Photo provided to the AJC.

Credit: Family photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Rogers Kyaruzi was a devoted father, friends and family members say. Photo provided to the AJC.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo