Family, attorneys discuss wrongful death lawsuit against former officer

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The family of a man shot and killed by a former Atlanta police officer during a car break-in investigation held a news conference Thursday morning to discuss the wrongful death lawsuit they filed this week.

Attorneys with The Cochran Firm Atlanta are representing Melva Rogers, the mother of 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers, in a civil lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, former officer James Burns and Atlanta Police Chief George Turner.

At the news conference attorneys said Atlanta police firing Burns was not enough.

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"Mayor Reed needs to take responsibility for this death. Taking responsibility is not just terminating the officer and isolating the city from him. We want to see a cultural change at the department where this doesn't happen again," attorney Shean Williams said. 

The shooting happened on June 22 in the 2100 block of Monroe Drive. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, an off-duty officer put out a call about a suspicious person who he thought was breaking into a car. The off-duty officer was serving as a courtesy officer at the Monroe Place Apartments. Investigators said a foot chase followed.

Burns was one of the responding officers. He was out of his patrol car when he said he spotted the 22-year-old Rogers. According to Burns, Rogers had already entered a vehicle when Burns opened fire and shot Rogers in the head.

Medics took Rogers to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he later died. Atlanta Police investigators concluded Burns used unnecessary and unreasonable force. Based on the findings of the investigation, Atlanta Police said they moved quickly to fire him.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced last Friday that Burns faces charges of Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of Violation of Oath in the death of Rogers. Over the weekend, Burns turned himself in to authorities. He reported to the Fulton County jail Saturday morning where he’s being held without bond.

Attorneys said the family is suing because Burns' excessive force was predictable and called the former officer a "ticking time bomb waiting to explode."  They indicated Burns' personnel file includes six incidents of excessive force complaints in just 2-and-a-half years of policing. 

"Nothing can bring my son back," Mrs. Rogers said at the news conference. 

The family's attorneys are calling on the Atlanta Police Department to release video of the deadly shooting. 

"The only reason the nation doesn't know about this shooting is because the video hasn't been released. We are marching about shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, and that 's good, but we have one right here in Atlanta," attorney Williams concluded.