Former Atlanta police Officer Garrett Rolfe, who is white, was charged with felony murder by Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. on Wednesday for fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks, who was black, on June 12.
Speaking at a news conference, Howard announced 10 other charges against Rolfe in addition to felony murder, including five counts of aggravated assault, four counts of violation of oath of office and one count of criminal damage to property.
Revealing the details of the investigation into the shooting, Howard showed an image of Rolfe kicking Brooks after shooting him and also stated that Rolfe did not provide Brooks with timely medical aid.
When asked by a reporter about the investigation’s revelations including Rolfe kicking Brooks subsequent to shooting him, Brooks’ wife Tomika Miller broke down saying, “I don’t know what I would have done if I saw that for myself. But I felt everything for myself just by hearing what he went through. And it hurt. It hurt really bad.”
Rolfe’s colleague, Officer Devin Brosnan who was also present at the scene, has been charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath of office after the investigation found that he stood on Brooks’ shoulder while Brooks struggled for his life after getting shot.
On Wednesday ahead of the news conference, the law firm representing Rolfe, LoRusso, stated that Rolfe fired his gun because he “heard a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him.”
Referring to Brooks’ attempt to shoot the Taser he had taken from Brosnan during the scuffle at Rolfe’s leg, the law firm noted, “Instead of merely trying to escape, Mr. Brooks reached back with his arm extended and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe. Officer Rolfe heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him.”
“Fearing for his safety, and the safety of the civilians around him, Officer Rolfe dropped his taser and fired his service weapon at the only portion of Mr. Brooks that presented to him – Mr. Brooks’ back.”
However, at the news conference, Howard stated, “I believe that at the time of the shooting, Mr. Brooks did not represent a threat.” He also emphasized that Atlanta police department rules don’t allow law enforcement officers to shoot at someone running away.
“So he certainly cannot fire a handgun at someone running away.”
Howard further stated that Brosnan had agreed to testify against Rolfe as the “state’s witness.”
However, Brosnan’s attorney Amanda Clark Parker disagreed with his assertion in an interview with CNN.
“To be clear, there is no agreement that our client is going to testify at any hearing. There’s no need for a plea deal. In my view, he doesn’t need a deal. He shouldn’t have been charged with a crime in the first place. … He is not a state’s witness. He is a witness.”
Parker also stated that the charge of aggravated assault against Brosnan wasn’t warranted because “an assault puts somebody in fear of immediately receiving a violent bodily injury. That wasn’t [Brosnan’s] intent.”
Don Samuel, another attorney for Brosnan stated that the charges against his client were “irrational and obviously based on factors which should have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice.” He emphasized that upon Brooks’ attempt at resisting arrest for driving under the influence, Brosnan only pulled out his taser and didn’t activate it.
According to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, Rolfe turned himself in Thursday afternoon and is being held without bond. He is expected to be in court on Friday at noon. Brosnan, on the other hand, turned himself in to the Fulton County Jail and was released on a signature bond about an hour later. Brosnan will not be required to wear a GPS anklet.
Referring to the charges on Wednesday, Brooks’ family attorney Justin Miller said, “Was this justice today? Not yet.”
“[The charges are] just step one. Step two is conviction on all charges, and then after that, we have to find a way to make things right for the Brooks family.”
“How do you find justice for three little girls who will never see their father again? How do you get justice for a little girl, who on her birthday every year for the rest of her life, will remember that’s the day she found out her dad died?”
The killing of Brooks’ and the charges against Rolfe come amid nationwide protests in the United States demanding reforms to law enforcement which were sparked after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by Derek Chauvin, a white former police officer.
“Maybe one day this country will get it right with policing and we’ll all come together,” added Miller.
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at firstname.lastname@example.org