Pittsburgh police officer fired after Jim Rogers’ death reinstated

PITTSBURGH — A fired Pittsburgh police officer who repeatedly tased a man who later died has been ordered reinstated to the force.

Keith Edmonds was fired along with three other officers two years ago after they were accused of violating policies and procedures and failing to get the victim proper medical attention.

>> Bodycam video released of interactions between Jim Rogers, Pittsburgh police before, during tasing

An arbitrator ruled Friday after hearing evidence in the case that Edmonds should be reinstated to the force.

Edmonds was called to investigate a report of a stolen bicycle in Bloomfield in October 2021, when he encountered Jim Rogers, who matched the description of the suspect.

Edmonds said he pulled his taser when Rogers failed to comply with his commands to show his identification. That led to an encounter that was caught on cell phone video as well as police body cam video.

>> $8M settlement on hold, new questions arise about renowned doctor hired to review high-profile case

Edmonds is seen on camera repeatedly tasing Rogers, who fell on the ground and got up multiple times while attempting to flee.

More officers arrived and they eventually took Rogers into custody and placed him in the back seat of a police cruiser.

Rogers repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe and needed medical attention.

Medics were called to the scene to examine Officer Edmonds, but they never looked at Rogers.

Rogers passed out on the way to the hospital and went into cardiac arrest.

He died the next day.

“It’s just a sense of disappointment, upset of the absence of accountability. There’s a man dead over a bicycle,” said Tim Stevens, the Chairman and CEO of the Black Political Empowerment Project, reacting to the arbitrator’s ruling.

Three of the four fired officers have already been reinstated to the force.

“If anyone does that and is then back on the force with paid leave, you wonder, is he going to feel immune in the future? Or any other officer? That’s where it becomes a serious question,” said Stevens. “When an officer performs inappropriately, when an officer performs in a way that is seriously negligent there should be a price to pay and that should not be a paid vacation.”

11 Investigates learned the city agreed to give them their jobs back with back pay without even going to an arbitration hearing.

>> 3rd Pittsburgh police officer fired after Jim Rogers’ death reinstated

Edmonds’ case went to a hearing and an arbitrator ruled he should be reinstated.

It’s unclear if the city will appeal the ruling.

The District Attorney convened a grand jury but no officers were ever criminally charged.

The arbitrator’s decision comes after the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Rogers’ family for $8 million.

Rogers’ uncle, Billy Joe Jordan, told Channel 11 by phone that “It’s a shame” Edmonds was reinstated.

Jordan claims there’s “no accountability” from the City because “if you paid $8 million, somebody did something wrong.”

>> Man tased by Pittsburgh police had cocaine in system, no seizure medication

Two of the officers involved in the incident decided to retire.

Some of the officers faced suspensions and reprimands, but most were reduced.

All of the officers involved in the incident are still on the force.

Mayor Ed Gainey’s office released a statement saying it is “deeply disappointed” in the arbitrator’s decision.

The statement went on to say, in part, “Officer Edmonds himself testified that he violated the policies of the City of Pittsburgh, however this award adopts a new standard that says that even an admission of guilt by the officer isn’t enough to warrant disciplinary action.”

It’s unclear if the city will appeal the arbitrator’s decision.

The NAACP Pittsburgh branch also expressed disappointment in the ruling.

In a statement, President Daylon Davis said, in part, “We cannot overlook the fact that accountability is essential in upholding the principles of justice and ensuring the safety and well-being of all members of our society. The lack thereof for Black People in Allegheny County, especially in cases as egregious as this one, only continues to erode any confidence we might have in our law enforcement institutions.”

Beth Pittinger, the Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board, issued the following statement:

“Mr. Rogers death was tragic and declared to have been accidental by the medical examiner with no criminal accountability attached by the ME or DA. The City settled a wrongful death suit with the Rogers’ estate. Regarding reinstatement of the officers involved, decisions made before all the facts were established may have been politically expedient but the day of reckoning always comes and those officers have been reinstated.  This outcome is not universally welcomed.”

Channel 11 also reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police for comment but has not heard back.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW