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Jurors Find 21-Year-Old Shot by Concord Police Died 'At The Hands of Another'

Charles Burns was shot and killed by police in Antioch in May of 2013.

By Bay City News—

A jury in a Contra Costa County coroner's inquest in Martinez ruled Thursday that an unarmed man killed by Concord police officers while fleeing police in Antioch last year died at the hands of another.
 
The 12-person jury returned the finding on Thursday afternoon after hearing the details surrounding the death of 21-year-old Charles Burns, who was shot multiple times by police officers on May 10, 2013, when they saw him reach for what they thought was a gun.

[Related article: Family of Man Shot by Concord Police Files Lawsuit]

Burns was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy showed he had been shot 10 times, including in the head and face, according to testimony from a forensic pathologist and police investigators.
 
In Contra Costa County, a coroner's inquest is held whenever there is an officer-involved death. Jurors in an inquest do not determine civil or criminal liability but are asked to determine whether the person died from natural causes, suicide, accident or were killed by someone else other than by accident.
 
The night of May 10, 2013, Concord police had set up a surveillance operation and had a search warrant for Burns' home in the 2700 block of Barcelona Circle in Antioch in connection with drug sales offenses, investigators testified at the inquest.

Around 9 p.m., officers saw the 21-year-old leave his house and get into a car driven by his friend, Bobby Lawrence, police said. An officer in an unmarked police minivan attempted to block their path with his vehicle, but Lawrence kept driving, hitting the van and several parked cars, according to police.
 
Soon afterward, Lawrence stopped his car and Burns exited, running across Buchanan Road with officers in pursuit. Two officers saw Burns reach into his waistband and grab a metallic object, investigators testified.

He turned toward them and the two officers opened fire, striking Burns, according to police testimony. Burns fell to the ground and rolled from his side onto his back.

A police K-9 at the scene perceived the movement to be an aggressive gesture and bit Burns on the shoulder and arm, investigators testified.

Family members and friends of Burns who attended the coroner's inquest gasped upon hearing the details of his death. Many wore blue T-shirts with Burns' photo and some said that they hoped a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week against Concord police and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office would bring justice.

The lawsuit alleges that police maliciously executed Burns, failed to render aid and conspired with the district attorney's office to cover up key facts in the case. Peter Johnson, an attorney representing the Burns family, spoke outside the courtroom Thursday and called the inquest "a forum for police to justify their actions" rather than a fact-finding process. 

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Elliott Lanosa February 15, 2014 at 01:44 AM
Not surprised in the least. Concord cops are as bad as San Jose cops. Shoot first ask questions later. Seems like cops need more training and some just don't deserve to be police officers or people with guns period. Sounds as though maybe they were trained by BART. I hope his family get justice. Cops anymore pee their pants just thinking about someone with a weapon, they are too scared to be cops. In the end it's the public who suffers from these under trained gun toting idiots.
old concord February 16, 2014 at 04:02 AM
terrible firearms training

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