ATLANTA - A white former Atlanta police officer was indicted for murder and other charges by a grand jury on Wednesday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man in June, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Five counts, including violating his oath of office, were brought against James Burns, who said he shot Deravis Caine Rogers in self-defense, the newspaper said. Prosecutors contended that Burns’ life was not in danger when he fired into the vehicle being driven by the victim.
The case sparked protests in Atlanta, with many saying race was a major factor in the shooting. It was one in series of incidents nationwide where unarmed black men have been shot by police, raising questions of racial bias in U.S. policing.
Prosecutors were not immediately available to comment on the reports of the indictment from the grand jury, which met behind closed doors.
An attorney for Burns was not immediately available for comment.
Burns was one of three Atlanta police officers who responded to a report of a suspicious person at an apartment, the Fulton County district attorney’s office said. Burns tried to block Rogers, 22, who was leaving the scene in his car, prosecutors said.
Even though Rogers “made no attempt to strike the officer and Burns was safely standing at the rear of his own patrol vehicle,” the officer shot Rogers in the head, killing him, prosecutors said.
Burns said Rogers drove toward him and he fired into the vehicle because he thought he was in danger.
(Reporting by David Beasley; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)