Ex-Atlanta officer charged with murder, aggravated assault in Rayshard Brooks shooting

ATLANTA — The Fulton County district attorney issued arrest warrants Wednesday in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by an Atlanta police officer.

District Attorney Paul Howard said he is charging former Officer Garrett Rolfe with 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and violations to his oath of office.

Officer Devin Brosnan is being charged with aggravated assault and two violations of oath of office.

Howard said the DA’s office was able to interview 10 witnesses to the shooting and watch eight videos that recorded the incident. Those videos included surveillance, body cam and personal cellphone video. They also viewed physical evidence, including inspecting the crime scene, canvassing the area and examining the Tasers that were used prior to bringing these charges against the officers.

Howard said they concluded from witness statements and the videos that Brooks never presented himself as a threat.

“Even though Mr. Brooks was slightly impaired, his demeanor during this incident was almost jovial,” Howard said. “For 41 minutes and 17 seconds he followed every instruction, he answered the questions. Mr. Brooks never displayed any aggressive behavior during the 41 minutes and 17 seconds.”

Howard said following the shooting, the officers failed to give Brooks any medical attention for 2 minutes and 12 seconds.

“During that 2 minutes and 12 seconds, Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks as he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life,” Howard said. “Officer Brosnan actually stood on Mr. Brooks shoulder.”

Howard said his office concluded at the time of Brooks’ death, he did not pose a threat to the officers. He said Brooks was running away from the officers when Rolfe shot him in the back two times.

“We have also concluded that Rolfe was aware that the Taser in Brooks’ possession, it was fired twice, and once it’s fired twice it presented no danger to him or to any other persons,” Howard said.

Howard said Brooks and Rolfe were 18 feet, 3 inches apart at the time Rolfe’s first shot was fired.

“At the time the first shot was fired, the utterance made by Officer Rolfe was ‘I got him,‘” Howard said.

Brosnan has now become a state witness, meaning he is willing to testify against Rolfe, and has admitted to standing on Brooks’ shoulder following his death, according to Howard.

However, Brosnan’s attorney said after Howard’s news conference that while his client is cooperating with the district attorney, he has not agreed to be a state witness or testify, WSB reported.

Howard said he was staying with his original statement.

Howard said his office is recommending no bond for Rolfe and a $50,000 bond for Brosnan.

Howard says this marks the 40th prosecution for police officers for misconduct in Fulton County and the ninth time they’ve prosecuted a homicide case against an officer.

The charges stem from the weekend police shooting that killed the 27-year-old father of three, who was found sleeping in a car in the drive-thru of a Wendy’s restaurant in southwest Atlanta.

According to the officers’ body camera footage, one of the officers tried to put Brooks in handcuffs, but Brooks struggled, grabbed one of the officers’ Tasers and ran away.

Brooks then pointed that Taser back at the officers. That’s when the video showed an officer firing three shots at Brooks, killing the 27-year-old father of three.

Since Saturday’s shooting, Howard’s office has been reviewing evidence.

The officer who fired the deadly shot, Rolfe, was fired by the Atlanta Police Department, The other officer, Devin Brosnan, has been placed on administrative duty.

Rolfe’s attorney released the following statement Wednesday prior to the district attorney’s news conference:

“On June 12, 2020, a Wendy’s employee called 911 to report a man was passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle and blocking traffic in the drive-through. Officer Brosnan responded, and made contact with the driver, Rayshard Brooks. After determining alcohol may have been a contributing factor, he requested Officer Rolfe’s assistance. Officer Rolfe, a member of the High Intensity Traffic Team and the Governor funded HEAT Unit, has specialized training in DUI investigations. He has made at least 300 DUI arrests, and completed the 160-hour Drug Recognition Expert course, graduating as valedictorian. After a thorough investigation, Officer Rolfe determined Mr. Brooks was impaired and driving a vehicle in violation of Georgia law. Officer Rolfe was polite and courteous to Mr. Brooks during the entire encounter. Mr. Brooks was polite and cooperative until Officer Rolfe placed him under arrest.

“Suddenly, without warning or provocation, Mr. Brooks chose to violently attack two uniformed police officers. Officers Brosnan and Rolfe used the least amount of force possible in their attempts to place Mr. Brooks into handcuffs. They attempted to leverage him to the ground while giving him loud, clear verbal commands. In response, Mr. Brooks continued actively resisting lawful efforts to arrest him. He then escalated his resistance by punching Officer Rolfe in the face committing several counts of felony obstruction of an officer. See O.C.G.A. §16-10-24. In an effort to place Mr. Brooks under arrest and stop his assault, Officer Rolfe lawfully deployed his TASER twice, but it had no effect on Mr. Brooks.

Mr. Brooks continued his assault and disarmed Officer Brosnan, stealing his city-issued TASER committing a robbery, another forcible felony under Georgia law. See O.C.G.A. §16-8-40 & O.C.G.A. §16-10-33 . Mr. Brooks, then armed, began running through a crowded parking lot. Mr. Brooks was lawfully under arrest and Officer Rolfe pursued him. Officer Rolfe had deployed his taser and held it steady in hopes the prongs would catch onto Mr. Brooks body and neutralize him. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur.

“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. Officer Rolfe immediately stopped firing when Mr. Brooks fell to the ground since there was no longer an imminent threat towards Officer Rolfe or others. Officer Rolfe gathered himself, and then immediately called for EMS. Officer Rolfe retrieved first-aid supplies and began rendering aid to Mr. Brooks. When Mr. Brooks’ pulse stopped, Officer Rolfe immediately began CPR until EMS relieved him.

“The loss of life in any instance is tragic. However, Officer Rolfe’s actions were justified under O.C.G.A. §17-4-20 and O.C.G.A. §16-3-21. A peace officer may use deadly force to 1. arrest a suspected felon when he reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of physical violence to the officer or others, 2. to protect himself and others from a life-threatening injury, and 3. to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. 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.

“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will complete an impartial investigation. Mr. Brooks’ family, the citizens of Atlanta, and Officers Rolfe and Brosnan, all desire a fair and thorough investigation including learning why Mr. Brooks suddenly turned violent. 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.”