Rayshard Brooks death: Police officer Garrett Rolfe charged with murder

District attorney reveals officer kicked Atlanta man after he was fatally shot

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 17 June 2020 16:54
Comments
Bodycam shows moments before police shoot Rayshard Brooks dead in Atlanta

The former Atlanta police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks has been charged with 11 offences including felony murder following the death of the 27-year-old black man in a Wendy’s restaurant car park.

Garrett Rolfe, who fired two shots into Mr Brooks’s back on 12 June, could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted

Mr Rolfe was fired and police chief Erika Shields resigned just hours after the shooting. The other officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty. He also faces a charge of aggravated assault. Arrest warrants have been issued for both men.

Fulton County District attorney Paul Howard also announced that Mr Rolfe faces charges of aggravated assault for shooting at Mr Brooks and firing in the direction at other vehicles at the scene. Mr Howard said footage shows Mr Rolfe kicking Mr Brooks after he had been shot.

Mr Rolfe has also been charged with several department violations, including shooting a Taser at Mr Brooks while he ran and failing to provide timely medical aid.

Following the announcement of the charges on Wednesday, Tomika Miller, the wife of Mr Brooks, said: “All I can do is just think about, ‘What if my husband was still here?’”

Mr Brooks was killed on 12 June after officers were called to the scene about a man sleeping in his car. Mr Brooks, who is black, had failed a sobriety test, according to police, and video shows him asking the two white officers whether he can be allowed to walk home. After speaking with officers for more than 40 minutes, Mr Rolfe attempted to place him in handcuffs. Mr Brooks then wrestled away a Taser, and fired behind him as he began to run from the parking lot.

Witness video shows Mr Rolfe firing his weapon and hitting Mr Brooks in the back, including a shot that hit his heart, Mr Howard said.

Investigators reviewed footage from two body cameras, dashboard-mounted police cameras, and witness cell phone videos.

Though he was “slightly impaired” at the scene, Mr Brooks was “almost jovial” while cooperating with officers for 41 minutes and 17 seconds, Mr Howard said.

Mr Brooks was “never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence” and “never presented himself as a threat”, he said.

He was on the ground for 2 minutes and 12 seconds after he was shot, and ”Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr Brooks while he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life,” Mr Howard said.

After he shot Mr Brooks, Mr Rolfe said, “I got him.”

The other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, “stood on Mr Brooks’s shoulder” while Mr Brooks was on the ground, according to the district attorney. He has been charged with aggravated assault and several police department violations.

“Based on the way these officers conducted themselves ... that demeanour of officers immediately after the shooting did not reflect any fear or danger of Mr Brooks,” Mr Howard said. “Their actions really reflected other kinds of emotions.”

Mr Brosnan has admitted to standing on Mr Brooks’s shoulder and will serve as a state witness, Mr Howard said. It would be the first time in the department’s history that an officer will have done so.

But a statement from Mr Brosnan’s attorney to the Atlanta Journal Constitution disputes the district attorney’s statement and said his client maintains his innocence.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is performing its own investigation, also said it was not aware of the district attorney’s press conference nor was it consulted on charges revealed on Wednesday.

“Although we have made significant progress in the case, we have not completed our work,” the agency said in a statement. “Our goal in every officer involved shooting case we are requested to review, is to complete a thorough, impartial investigation before we submit the file to the respective District Attorney’s Office.”

The case is among 40 prosecutions from the district attorney’s office over police misconduct, Mr Howard said.

Mr Brooks’s killing has revived Black Lives Matter protests against police violence as millions of demonstrators have taken to the streets in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Mr Rolfe had previously had four complaints, according to department records, and was involved in a use of force incidents in 2015 and 2016. He joined the force in 2014.

He also was involved in five car accidents.

A statement from Mr Rolfe’s attorney said that his use of force was “justified” and that “there is no compelling reason to bring any charges against” the men before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation “has completed its investigation and published its findings”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in