Murder charge for Atlanta cop who shot Brooks

This screen grab taken from body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department on June 12 shows Rayshard Brooks speaking with Officer Garrett Rolfe in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant prior to being fatally shot by Rolfe.

ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT/ZUMA WIRE/TNS

BY ZACHARY HANSEN AND CHRISTIAN BOONE
ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/TNS

ATLANTA – The former Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks was charged Wednesday with felony murder and 10 other offenses in his death, the Fulton County district attorney’s office said.

At an afternoon news conference, District Attorney Paul Howard announced the charges against Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks twice during a suspected DUI arrest at an Atlanta Wendy’s on Friday night. Rolfe was fired the next day, shortly before Chief Erika Shields stepped down from her post.

The other charges against Rolfe include five counts of aggravated assault, one count of first-degree criminal damage to property and four counts of violation of oath by an officer, according to arrest warrants released by the DA’s office.

More charges

A second officer present during the incident, Devin Brosnan, will face four charges, including a count of aggravated assault and three counts of violation of oath, the warrants said.

The DA said Rolfe kicked Brooks after the shooting and that Brosnan stood on Brooks’ shoulders while he was on the ground “struggling for his life.” Howard said there’s video evidence they did this while waiting minutes to administer first aid to the dying man.

“There is an Atlanta policy that requires that the officers have to provide timely medical attention to Mr. Brooks, to anyone who is injured,” Howard said. “But after Mr. Brooks was shot, for a period of two minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied to Mr. Brooks.”

Bond requests

Brosnan, who is on administrative duty pending the outcome of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s probe, has agreed to testify for the state against Rolfe, the DA said. He also admitted to standing on Brooks’ shoulders following the shooting, saying that his intention was to stand on his arm, according to Howard.

However, Brosnan’s attorney, Don Samuel, told AJC.com that, “It’s absolutely untrue.”

He said his client has not agreed to be a state’s witness, denying that his client admitted guilt or did anything wrong.

“The decision to initiate charges by the Fulton County DA’s office is irrational, unethical and obviously based on factors which should have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice,” Samuel said in a statement.

The DA had urged both men to turn themselves in by 6 p.m. Thursday. He was also recommending that Rolfe be denied bond, while he was asking for Brosnan to be granted a $50,000 bond.

Videos, cellphones reviewed

Howard, who faces a runoff election in August, cited that his office has reviewed eight videos, including three cellphone videos. Due to the amount of video evidence, Howard said he did not need to wait on the GBI to complete its investigation.

In addition, he mentioned that his investigators have spoken to three witnesses who were at the Wendy’s when the shooting took place.

Rolfe fired in their direction “intentionally and without justification,” prompting three of the aggravated assault charges, according to his warrants. The witnesses were identified as Melvin Evans, Danyel Killions and Michael Perkins. Evans’ SUV was struck by a bullet, leading to the criminal damage to property charge, a warrant said.

What led to shooting

According to previously released body camera footage, Brooks was cooperative with the two officers until he failed a Breathalyzer test. The officers tried to take him into custody, which led to a struggle for a Taser.

Brooks eventually got a hold of the Taser, and he ran a few steps before turning toward Rolfe, GBI Director Vic Reynolds said. That was when Rolfe opened fire, leading to Brooks’ death.

“It does appear in the video that he is fleeing from the Atlanta police officers, that as he’s fleeing he turns back over his shoulder with what appears to the naked eye to be his Taser that the eyewitnesses told us they saw the individual have that belonged to one of the officers,” Reynolds said on Saturday.

“And as he turned it over, you’ll be able to see on the video the Atlanta officer, literally reach down to get his service weapon and as he gets his weapon, Mr. Brooks begins turning his body away from him, I presume to flee.”

Staff writer Bill Rankin contributed to this article.

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