The death investigation of Jim Rogers, a Black man tased by police who later died in custody, has family and activists calling for the officers involved to be charged with murder.
As members of the community and Rogers’ family joined forces to express their outrage and frustration with local officials for their handling of the investigation, they’ve demanded greater transparency and police accountability which has been slow to come says Devon Adwoa of the Justice for Jim Rogers group.
“The family wants the main three officers directly involved with the arrest, the tasing and the murder to be charged with murder and be fired from their positions. They’re also calling for a release of the body camera footage,” Adwoa said.
On October 13, 2021, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania police officers responded to reports of a stolen bicycle in Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, about three miles away from downtown Pittsburgh. Police have been largely tightlipped on the incident, but local media reports say when police arrived at the location of Jim Rogers, 54, who was homeless at the time, they tried to detain him.
Police scanner traffic indicates Rogers was reportedly resisting arrest. Cellphone video captured Rogers on the ground with an officer tasing him, as other officers arrived, Rogers was handcuffed. The Tribune Review reports, Rogers “asked for help 13-times and banged his head off the seat saying, ‘I need a hospital,’ ‘I can’t breathe,’ ‘Get a medic,’ ‘Help me’.”
Rogers became unresponsive enroute to the hospital, he never made it to jail as he died at Mercy Hospital the next day.
The medical examiner ruled Rogers’ death as accidental attributing it to acute global hypoxic ischemic injury of the brain.
In December, Pittsburgh police announced the officers involved violated department policy and said eight of the officers including two supervisors would face discipline; however, they did not specify what disciplinary measures took place.
Pittsburgh police also announced changes to its use of force procedures, requiring EMS to assist people who were tased, officers would receive training on its duty to intervene and officers would be required to become certified emergency medical responders.
Last week local outlet KDKA reported that Pittsburgh’s mayor started a discipline process that could result in firings for the eight officers involved.
Atlanta Black Star sought comment from Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey on the reported process, but his spokesman said, “state statue and the police labor contract limit the city’s ability to speak on disciplinary investigations at this time.”
The pace of the case leaves Adwoa and others critical of the investigation speculating if a cover-up is in the works. “We have to believe some sort of cover-up or ill-intent is involved because if you’re truly a representative of the people would you not want the truth to be out there,” Adwoa said.
“Mainly what we want to see is these officers who murdered a man off of the force and in jail,” Adwoa said.
Atlanta Black Star will continue following this story as more details emerge.
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