Family of Antioch Man Killed by Concord Police Allege He Was Executed, Mauled by Police Dog

SAN FRANCISCO — In court filings this month, the lawyer suing Concord police over a fatal officer-involved shooting leveled serious allegations against officers: that they shot an Antioch man who was surrendering, sicced a police dog on him, then shot him in the head as he lay on his back.

At the center of the plaintiffs’ narrative is one of the 10 gunshot wounds suffered by 21-year-old Charles Burns in 2013. The bullet entered through the top of Burns’ skull and cut through his brain, lacerating his cerebellum and brainstem. It is an injury forensic experts say would have killed him almost immediately, which contradicts police testimony that Burns raised his head from the ground after all shots were fired.

Burns was shot by officers who were attempting to serve a search warrant at an Antioch home as part of a methamphetamine-trafficking investigation centered on Burns and others. Police say that after a brief car chase, Burns — a passenger — ran from his friend’s car. The officers who shot him testified they saw Burns grabbing his waistband and reaching for his ankle while running, and thought he was armed. One officer fired all nine bullets in his gun, the other officer fired twice.

No gun was found on Burns. He had a cellphone, which Concord attorneys say was mistaken for a weapon. Burns’ family sued Concord police in 2014, claiming Burns was killed “intentionally and maliciously.” The city has denied the claims, and the case is headed to trial.

An internal investigation by Concord police found all 11 shots were justified and exonerated both officers of wrongdoing, according to a memo included in the court file.

Peter Johnson, the Burns family attorney, wrote in court records this month that his evidence includes testimony of two confidential eyewitnesses. He told this newspaper he was keeping their identities private for their safety, and declined to comment further. Attorneys representing the city declined to comment as well, and said city officials aren’t supposed to speak on pending litigation.

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