In a news conference held on March 23, 2022, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey spoke about the need for police reform after the taser death of Jim Rogers, a Black man, 54, by five police officers, Target 11 reports.
Five officers were terminated from the department, however three were reinstated with the agreement they would “undergo retraining,” according to Target 11.
“Three officers will remain employed with the Bureau and five will no longer be employed by the city of Pittsburgh,” said Public Safety Director Lee Schmidt, who refused to disclose details about the investigation but confirmed the officers violated policies and procedures, according to Target 11.
Breaking: disciplinary action is in for 8 Pgh police officers involved in tasing of Jim Rogers, who later died. Multiple sources say 5 officers have officially been fired by the public safety director. Three officers were reinstated but ordered to undergo retraining. #wpxi
— Rick Earle (@WPXIRickEarle) March 23, 2022
Although the city would not publicly name the officers, sources revealed to Target 11 that terminated officers are Keith Edmonds, Greg Boss, Pat Desaro, Neyib Velazquez, and Sgt. Colby Neidig. Edmonds is the officer who used a taser on Rogers. Boss and Desaro drove the victim to the hospital, while Neidig is a supervisor who was present at the scene, Target 11 reports.
“Jim Rogers deserved to live a long life,” Mayor Ed Gainey said during a Wednesday press conference, reports KDKA-TV. “He didn’t deserve to lose his life at the hands of city police officers. What his life could have been will stay with me as long as I’m the mayor of this city,” said Gainey.
Gainey wants the reprimand of the officers to launch better police-community relations.
“Today sets us on a pathway to improve police-community relations. We need to work together to honor the memory of Jim Roger to make a fair and equitable city for us all,” he said.
Police tased Rogers several times, claiming he became “non-compliant” when authorities received a call of a suspicious person involved in a theft. Rogers died in October.
The president of the Pittsburgh Police Officers Union, Bob Swartzwelder, did not volunteer any specifics about the case but said the police union would appeal the firing of the officers.
“We will appeal every case to arbitration that will be heard before a panel of three. At the end of that case there will be a determination made whether the discipline will be modified, upheld or even eliminated. We’re going to file for arbitration on every single case as soon as we receive a letter from the public safety director,” said Swartzwelder to Target 11.
Swartzwelder also disagreed with Gainey’s comment about Rogers losing “his life at the hands of police officers” and said the autopsy report by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner ruled Roger’s death accidental, according to Target 11.
This month, a grand jury assembled to decide whether to bring charges against the Pittsburgh police officers. Rogers’ family published a statement urging the officers to be criminally charged “as soon as possible,” KDKA-TV reports.