Fulton County DA charges officers involved in deadly shooting of Rayshard Brooks
ATLANTA - The Fulton County District Attorney's Office has decided to file charges in the deadly shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Fulton County D.A. Paul Howard announced that former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe is facing 11 charges, including felony murder, multiple counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree criminal damage to property, and two counts of violating of his oath as a public officer.
Officer Devin Brosnan has been charged with a count of aggravated assault and two counts of violating his oath of office. He is now cooperating with the District Attorney's Office as a witness. Howard said it may be the first time ever an Atlanta police officer has testified against a fellow officer in the same department, noting that he was "almost shocked" Brosnan agreed to do so.
If convicted, Rolfe could be sentenced to either life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots (left), and officer Devin Brosnan (right).
Brooks, 27, was shot and killed by Rolfe the night of June 12 at a Wendy's restaurant along University Avenue in southeast Atlanta. Brosnan was also present during the shooting.
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The officers were called late Friday over complaints of a car blocking the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. Brosnan arrived first and found Brooks alone in the car, apparently asleep. Brooks agreed to move the car, showed his license, and Rolfe arrived minutes later to conduct a sobriety check.
The two officers’ body cameras and the dash-mounted cameras in their patrol cars showed they spent more than 40 minutes peacefully questioning Brooks. The fighting erupted when they tried to handcuff Brooks.
One of the dash cameras recorded the brawl. As Brooks fights to stand, Brosnan presses a Taser to his leg and threatens to stun him. Brooks grabs the Taser and pulls it away. He struggles to his feet, the Taser in his hand, and starts running.
Howard said his office spoke with three witnesses and observed eight video recordings - including body camera footage from the two officers, surveillance footage from the Wendy's, and cell phone video from a witness.
Both officers’ body cameras were knocked to the ground in the struggle, and none of the four police cameras captured the shooting. Footage released from a Wendy’s security camera showed Brooks turn and point an object in his hand at one of the officers, who was steps behind him. The officer draws his gun and fires.
After the shooting, Howard said Rolfe was heard on camera saying "I got him."
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"Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat,” Howard said, emphasizing the victim's “jovial” mood and the officers' failure to state he was under arrest for DUI, which goes against department policy, as part of the reasoning for the arrest warrants.
The district attorney said that there is an Atlanta Police Department policy that officers have to provide timely medical attention to anyone who was injured. For two minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied.
Instead, Howard said they noticed that on recorded videos that Rolfe kicked Brooks while he was down "fighting for his life." Brosnan was also seen in video stepping on Brooks' shoulder while he is on the ground. Brosnan has admitted to standing on Brooks' body, Howard said.
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The Fulton County Medical Examiner ruled Rayshard Brooks' death a homicide following an autopsy, which showed he died from two gunshot wounds to his back.
In a statement, Rolfe's lawyer told FOX 5 that, while Brooks' death was tragic, the former officer's actions were justified under the rules involving the use of deadly force by officers.
"Mr. Brooks violently attacked two officers and disarmed one of them. When Mr. Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, any officer would have reasonably believed that he intended to disarm, disable, or seriously injure him," a spokesperson for the LoRusso Law Firm said. "Officer Rolfe is well known to the courts and there is no compelling reason to bring any charges against them before the GBI has completed its investigation and published its findings."
Rayshard Brooks, 27 (Photo: Family).
The GBI released a statement following the District Attorney's announcement of charges, saying the bureau "was not aware of today’s press conference before it was conducted. We were not consulted on the charges filed by the District Attorney."
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she didn't believe the shooting was justified. Police Chief Erika Shields, who joined the department as a beat officer in 1995, resigned.
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Brooks’ death inflamed raw emotions in Atlanta and across the U.S. following the May 25 police custody killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Demonstrators took to the streets Saturday and gathered around the Wendy's where the deadly shooting took place. Authorities have announced reward of up to $20,000 reward for information finding those responsible for setting fire to the restaurant.
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Rolfe had previously been terminated from the Atlanta Police Department on Sunday. Brosnan was placed on administrative duty. Rolfe had worked for the department since October 2013, and Brosnan since September 2018.
This is the ninth prosecution of a police officer involved in a homicide in Fulton County. Eight of those involved black men, with the other involving a black woman.
Neither officer is currently in custody and has been given until 6 p.m. Thursday to turn themselves in. Howard is requesting no bond for Rolfe and a $50,000 bond for Brosnan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.