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The NAACP has called on the Department of Justice to investigate the death of Jim Rogers, a 54-year-old Black man, after an encounter with Pittsburgh police officer Keith Edmonds in October 2021 led to his death.

Rogers succumbed to injuries a day following the altercation where Officer Edmonds used his taser on him multiple times. Janette McCarthy Wallace, general counsel of the NAACP, emphasized the broader implications of such incidents, stating, “Jim Rogers deserved better, and Black America deserves better. But the sad reality is, our communities continue to endure pain and suffering at the hands of those tasked with serving and protecting us.”

The incident in question unfolded when Officer Edmonds responded to a report concerning a stolen bicycle. Upon arriving at the scene, Edmonds encountered Rogers, who appeared disoriented in body camera footage, raising his hands upon seeing the officer. The situation escalated after Rogers denied stealing the bike, insisting he thought it was abandoned, and said, “I have no weapons.” An attempt by Rogers to retrieve his wallet from Edmonds led to a physical confrontation, with Edmonds commanding Rogers to the ground and subsequently threatening him with a taser unless he complied.

Despite Rogers’s compliance and apologies, saying, “Okay, I’m so sorry,” and “I didn’t do anything,” the situation deteriorated, with Rogers visibly struggling to breathe after being placed in a police car, hitting his head against the cage, and crying out in pain. Despite his distress, the officers did not offer aid, with one suggesting they would roll up the window if Rogers continued “yelling and screaming for no reason.”

Following Rogers’s death, which the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office stated was due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, ruling it accidental, the NAACP’s letter to Kristen Clarke of the DOJ outlined the grave concerns over the incident. It stated, “Although Mr. Rogers was unarmed and did not appear to pose a threat, Officer Edmond tased Mr. Rogers ten times. Despite Mr. Rogers’ repeated cries for help, the police failed to provide adequate medical assistance, by not promptly transporting Mr. Rogers to the nearest hospital. Moreover, the local prosecutor has not filed criminal charges against the officers. According to news reports, the city reinstated three of the four officers involved. Without federal intervention, the police officers will not be held accountable for their actions.”

This call for federal oversight comes amidst the backdrop of a grand jury investigation by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., which did not lead to any charges, and a subsequent $8 million settlement with Rogers’ estate by the city.


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