In a rare move, the Atlanta Police Department fired an officer this month for excessive force in a recent fatal police shooting case. The decision has been overshadowed by the turmoil around policing and race across the country the past week.
But an APD spokesman confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that on July 1 it fired the officer involved in the death of Deravis Caine Rogers. Rogers, suspected of breaking into cars, was shot June 22 as he tried to drive away from a northeast Atlanta apartment complex.
An internal investigation revealed that the officer, whose name was released on Monday as James R. Burns, violated APD policy. The policy says the force has to be “reasonable and necessary” to shoot into a fleeing vehicle.
“The force used was ruled excessive because there was no obvious threat made toward the officer,” said Sgt. Warren Pickard, an APD spokesman told the AJC.
The case is also under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s office.
The incident comes as departments across the country are re-examining and tightening policies of when officers can and should fire their guns. One are that is receiving increased scrutiny is shooting into moving vehicles.
An AJC-Channel 2 Action News investigation into police shootings last year found that of 184 fatal police shootings between 2010 and 2015, not one had been prosecuted before a criminal court.
One of the most controversial cases examined by reporters involved a Brunswick mother, Caroline Small, who had been shot by police in her car. The officers fired eight bullets through her windshield.