The Fulton County District Attorney’s office is scrapping the murder case against former Atlanta Police Officer James Rolfe Burns.
In 2016, Officer Burns shot and killed 22-year-old Caine Rogers right outside 11Alive’s Studios.
Court documents filed this week show the status of the charges against Burns changed to nolle prosequi. That translates from Latin as “we shall no longer prosecute.”
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard confirms that a recent Georgia Court of Appeals case prompted the D.A. to reconsider how statements made by a police officer could be used in a grand jury proceeding.
“We are NOT dropping our commitment to fully prosecute the case against Burns. The nolle prosequi is a procedural matter,” Howard’s statement contends.
“The law was very clear, this case needed to be dismissed,” responded Burns’ defense attorney Drew Findling. “This is what happens when you present a case in an unconstitutional fashion.”
It was a sweltering summer night, when Burns answered a call for help placed by an off duty officer to the Monroe Place Apartments. He pulled up outside the complex after the off duty officer radioed someone was running away and possibly breaking into cars.
Moments later, Officer Burns fired a single shot at a moving vehicle. Burns told investigators that he could hear the car accelerating and that the driver, identified Caine Rogers, was trying to run him over.
That shot killed Rogers within minutes.
An internal APD investigation concluded that not only was Rogers’ car not accelerating, but that Burns was standing behind his patrol vehicle and not directly exposed to the oncoming car.
Weeks later, Burns was fired from the Atlanta Police Department and later indicted Burns on charges ranging from making false statements to felony murder. In the two years since being charged with murder, Burns has been out on bond awaiting trial. His wife, Lindsey, spoke with us about the night that changed her life.
“We never really got to be newlyweds,” Lindsey said through her tears. “June 22nd happened and it really just shook our whole foundation and that’s really what we’ve been trying to cope with since then.”
“There’s an undercurrent of pain in every day of our lives,” explained Lindsey Burns. “We think about what happened every day. We think about the Rogers family every day.”
Caine’s father, Deravis Thomas, says there’s now an empty hole in his family.
“For us to go from picking clothes out together to picking out a casket for him, it’s just…I’m here to fight for him and I’m not going to stop until we get justice,” Thomas said.
If the D.A. does move forward with a murder case against Burns, they will need to reconvene a grand jury and issue new indictments.