The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot a black man as he ran away with the officer’s Taser last week has been charged with murder, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced Wednesday. Garrett Rolfe, who was fired after the killing of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, faces 11 criminal charges, including felony murder.
If convicted of the murder charge, Rolfe could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.Howard, speaking to reporters Wednesday, said prosecutors reviewed eight videos of the shooting and spoke with 10 witnesses and determined that Brooks “did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury” to the officers. The district attorney said the officers failed to provide “timely” medical attention to Brooks for two minutes after he was shot and that Rolfe kicked Brooks as he was lying on the ground, “fighting for his life.”The second officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, faces three charges, including aggravated assault for standing or stepping on Brooks’ shoulder after he was shot, Howard said.Howard said Brosnan has agreed to become a cooperating witness for the state and testify against Rolfe, adding that prosecutors are recommending a bond of $50,000 in exchange for his cooperation. The district attorney said Brosnan is one of the first officers in Fulton County to testify against someone in his own department.Brosnan’s lawyer disputed this later Wednesday, saying that while Brosnan is cooperating with investigators, he has not agreed to testify or to plead guilty to any charge. In an interview with CNN, attorney Don Samuel disputed the aggravated assault charge, claiming that his client placed his foot on Brooks to make sure he “didn’t have access to a weapon.” Samuel also said Brosnan had fallen and suffered a concussion and wasn’t initially aware that Brooks had been shot.
Rayshard Brooks and Garrett Rolfe are shown in body camera video released by police.
Atlanta Police Department
On Friday, June 12, Rolfe and Brosnan arrived at a Wendy’s drive-thru around 10:30 p.m. because Brooks had fallen asleep in his vehicle. Police said Brooks failed a sobriety test and struggled with police when they tried to cuff him.
Brooks wrestled a Taser away from an officer, ran from the officers, and at one point, aimed the Taser at police before Rolfe fired his weapon, authorities said. Brooks died after undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. An autopsy from the county medical examiner said Brooks suffered two gunshot wounds to his back and listed his cause of death as a homicide. Rolfe was fired from the department and Brosnan was placed on administrative duty.
Rayshard Brooks’ widow reacts after officer is charged with felony murder
Ahead of the announcement, lawyers for Rolfe claimed that the former officer “feared for his safety” and the safety of those around him. “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 lawyers said.The district attorney, however, said that prosecutors determined that the officer’s Taser had been fired twice and no longer presented a threat.Brooks’ wife, Tomika Miller, said it was difficult to hear the new developments in the case. “It was very hard,” Miller said in a news conference Wednesday. “I felt that everything that he felt, just by hearing what he went through, it hurt, it hurt really bad.”Audrey McNamara contributed reporting.