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Vigil held to remember Jim Rogers, one year after his death

Jillian Forstadt
90.5 WESA
A crowd set up a candlelit memorial in Friendship Park, near where the incident between Jim Rogers and Pittsburgh police occurred on Oct. 13, 2021.

A vigil was held in honor of Jim Rogers on Thursday night, one year since his encounter with Pittsburgh police. Rogers died in a hospital a day after police shocked him with a Taser multiple times.

The crowd set up a candlelit memorial in Friendship Park, near where the incident occurred.

Rogers’ uncle, Billy Joe Jordan, called on the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office to charge the officers involved.

“My nephew was cold-blooded murdered, what happened to him,” Jordan told the crowd. “He needs justice, and he will get justice.”

Several dozen people gathered on bikes and on foot to celebrate Rogers’ life. Rogers’ family said he loved riding bikes, Newport cigarettes and Motown music, which played as the group marched through the streets.

“Everything they’ve said about Jim, kindhearted and good, he was all that,” Jordan said.

The Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner ruled Rogers' death an accident caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

A grand jury was convened to investigate Rogers’ death, but the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office has yet to release the results.

Devon Adwoa, an organizer with the group Justice for Jim Rogers, said the investigation’s secrecy protects the officers involved.

“That's what they will continue to do,” Adwoa said. “And I'm sure whatever results come out will be indicative of that protection.”

Five Pittsburgh police officers were terminated earlier this year in connection to Rogers’ death.

Adwoa, who has spoken on behalf of Jim Rogers’ family at multiple protests, said the group will continue to call on Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey to charge the officers.

“A firing means nothing when these officers can just simply work at a different station, can simply be rehired,” Adwoa said.

Three additional officers were disciplined as a result of the incident. All of the officers reprimanded have appealed the decisions through the Fraternal Order of Police.

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.