Murder charges were handed down Wednesday against, Garrett Rolfe, the white Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back, stating that Brooks posed no threat and that the officer violated his oath kicking him and not offering medical treatment for over 2 minutes.
After what appeared to be a calm interaction at first, according to police body camera footage, the situation quickly escalated into a tussle in the Wendy’s parking lot. Brooks wrestled a stun gun from officers but was running away and was 18 feet and 3 inches from Officer Rolfe when he opened fire, District Attorney Paul Howard said during a news conference.
“I got him!” the district attorney quoted Rolfe as saying.
The felony murder charge against Rolfe carries life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors choose to seek it. He was also charged with 10 other offenses punishable by decades behind bars.
“We’ve concluded at the time that Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death,” Howard said.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in Atlanta. Howard announced former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe faces charges including felony murder in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks on June 12. (AP Photo/Byrnn Anderson)
Ahead of the district attorney’s scheduled announcement, Rolfe’s lawyers issued a statement saying the officer feared for his safety and that of others around him and was justified in shooting Brooks. Rolfe opened fire after hearing a sound “like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him.”
All of this on the heels of weeks filled with global protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor demanding police reform in America.
Senate Republicans on the Hill announced the most ambitious GOP police-reform package in years, including an enhanced use-of-force database, restrictions for chokeholds and new commissions to study law enforcement and race.
The bill which is 106 pages, does not seem as sweeping as a Democratic proposal set for a House vote next week, but it shows how swiftly the national debate has been transformed since Floyd’s death.
The Senate’s lone black Republican, Tim Scott of South Carolina, led a task force of GOP senators in compiling the package and spoke of his own experiences being stopped by police.
“We hear you,” he said to the families of Americans killed by police. “We’re listening to your concerns.”
BNC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal spoke on the affects these recent decisions will have on the country.
During the news conference DA Howard laid out his case against the two officers with a slide show of their charges accompanied by screenshots of the incident depicting each violation. With each explanation more and more was revealed of the case including breaches in protocol and violation of oath which carries a possible sentence of one to five years of imprisonment.
The most egregious the revelation was the treatment of Brooks after he shot and killed in the parking lot with Rolfe kicking the man and the other officer, Devin Brosnan, standing on Brooks’ shoulders.
Police were called to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane. An officer found Brooks asleep behind the wheel of the car and called for another officer to do field sobriety testing. Body camera video shows Brooks and officers having a relatively calm and respectful conversation for more than 40 minutes before things rapidly turned violent. Brooks wrestled with officers, snatched one of their stun guns and turned and pointed it at one of them as he ran through the parking lot.