Atlanta Cop Indicted for Murder After Firing Into a Moving Vehicle

In another sign of how public sentiment is shifting in police shooting cases, a Fulton County grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former Atlanta police officer for murder and other charges for the June 22 shooting of an unarmed black man, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Former officer James Burns, 34, was indicted on five felony counts in connection with the shooting of Deravis Caine Rogers, who was shot in the head as he drove around Burns’ vehicle near a northeast Atlanta apartment complex. In several other recent cases, grand juries had declined to indict officers involved in shootings. Dash cam videos and two eyewitnesses provided evidence against Burns.

The officer had responded to a call from another officer, who said he was pursuing on foot a man suspected of breaking into cars. Burns drove up to a street near apartment buildings and parked his patrol car. He saw a car drive toward him and commanded the vehicle to stop. The driver kept driving and Burns shot through the passenger side window, admitting later that he did not know if the driver was the suspect being pursued.

The Rogers incident spurred local protests, and demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement put pressure on local officials to make an example of the Atlanta officer. Police Chief George Turner fired the officer on July 1.

From 2010 to 2015, not a single Georgia police officer had faced criminal charges for shooting and killing a civilian. There now have been two officers charged in 2016.

During that span, just one officer was indicted from a pool of 171 fatal police shootings — and that case was thrown out by a judge.

"... The absence of any prosecutions points to a remarkable conclusion," the paper wrote. "As far as Georgia's criminal justice system is concerned, police officers are always legally justified when they shoot and kill a civilian in the line of duty."

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