A grand jury in Atlanta, Georgia formally charged former Atlanta Police Department officer James Burns with felony murder and other crimes including aggravated assault, making false statements and violations of oaths of office for the June 22 shooting death of 22-year-old Deravis Caine Rogers, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Burns is white, while Rogers, a black man, was unarmed. According to the AP, prosecutors say then-Officer Burns fired a single round into Rogers' car while searching for a suspicious person, despite a lack of any danger or evidence of a risk to Burns' life. Rogers was hit in the head and died.
The APD fired Burns on July 1. Department spokesman Sgt. Warren Pickard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The force used was ruled excessive because there was no obvious threat made toward the officer."
However, when it comes to criminal charges, Burns will be tried in a justice system stacked well in his favor.
According to the AJC, from 2010 to 2015, only 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."