Atlanta officers Brosnan and Rolfe will not face charges in Rayshard Brooks shooting

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More than two years after the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks sparked protests and caught the attention of the Atlanta Police Department, a state-appointed prosecutor announced Tuesday that neither of the two officers involved would face to charges.

Special Prosecutor Pete Skandalakis said after reviewing footage from police body cameras and security footage from the area, investigators concluded the officers had “committed no crime”.

“This Devin Brosnan and Garrett Rolfe case is not like the George Floyd case,” he said. “This is not a case in which an officer knelt on a supine suspect for nine minutes. It’s not like that. Nor is it like the Ahmaud Arbery case, where armed citizens were chasing a person in a neighborhood. This case, its facts, are different.

Still, he added, “You can’t ignore the fact that it was all happening around the same time.”

Brooks, 27, was fatally shot on the night of June 12, 2020, at the height of racial justice protests following Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. Video soon emerged showing Brooks running away when he was shot by Rolfe, an officer. The day after the shooting, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned from her position, Rolfe was fired, and Brosnan, another officer at the scene, was removed from street patrols.

Four days later, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced that Rolfe had been accused of murder, aggravated assault and other offences, while Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and other related counts. Shortly thereafter, a number of Atlanta police officers called sick to protest the decision to charge the men.

But in August 2020, Howard was defeated in his re-election bid and his replacement, Fani Willis, accused him of tainting the case, pushing charges before the investigation was completed. Critics have accused Howard of pursuing the case in an effort to bolster his re-election chances. Willis asked the Georgia Attorney General’s office to take over the case. Attorney General Chris Carr chose Skandalakis to pursue him.

Rolfe’s disciplinary record showed a history of citizen complaints and that he had previously been disciplined for issues, including in a use of force incident. In May 2021, the Atlanta Public Service Board reinstated Rolfe with the Atlanta Police Department, finding that he “did not receive due process”.

Andre Dickens, Atlanta’s first-year black mayor, released a statement saying he respects the work of the special prosecutor but feels for the Brooks family.

“My heart continues to aches for the family of Rayshard Brooks,” he said. “He was a father whose absence will forever be felt by our community.”

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Lewis, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, spoke out against the decision.

“Seeing the charges dismissed really pains me,” Lewis said in a statement. “We must continue to work to keep our neighborhoods safe, but we must also hold the police accountable.”

Gerald Griggs, president of the Georgia NAACP, also released a statement criticizing the prosecutor’s decision. Griggs said the decision whether or not to pursue the charges should have been made by a grand jury.

“We have two different prosecutors with two different indictments, so the case needs to go to a grand jury for the citizens of Fulton County to make a decision,” Griggs said. “As the NAACP of Georgia, we take civil rights very seriously and 2020 has changed the conversation about social justice, so citizens should figure out what police accountability looks like.”

The Atlanta Police Department released a statement saying the two white officers involved in the shooting, who are on administrative duty, would undergo training to be recertified for street patrol.

The incident began when Atlanta officer Brosnan first approached Brooks’ car, which Brooks was sleeping in, for blocking the driveway of a Wendy’s in southwest Atlanta. Rolfe arrived minutes later and performed a field sobriety test on Brooks which revealed that his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report.

As Brosnan and Rolfe tried to take Brooks in custody, a fight broke out between the three men. Video of the fight showed Brooks grabbing Brosnan’s Taser and trying to flee. Rolfe ran after Brooks, and Brooks turned around and fired the Taser at Rolfe. Rolfe then fired three rounds at Brooks.

Skandalakis said investigators came to the conclusion that no crime had been committed after watching the video and concluding that Rolfe had to make a life-and-death decision in a split second.

“We don’t look at this with a 20/20 hindsight,” he said. “We are looking at this with the information officers had in a dynamic and rapidly changing situation.”

He added that he did not believe the shooting was racially motivated.

“Black lives matter,” he said. “I have spent my entire career representing black victims of crime. I understand that encounters between the police and the African American community are sometimes very volatile. But I would ask them to look at the facts of this case, and this is not one of those cases.

Justin Miller, one of the attorneys representing the Brooks family in a separate civil suit against the city and the officers, dismissed the idea that race had nothing to do with what happened that night.

“If you think of Officer Rolfe, look where he came from,” Miller said. “Had he ever met someone like Rayshard Brooks before?” Probably not. So there is a racial element to any time you send an officer who is untrained and unfamiliar with the community.

Dickens said Tuesday that the Atlanta department has improved training on how to defuse confrontations since the shooting.

“Through engagement with community advocates, the Atlanta City Council, the Atlanta Police Department and others, we have listened and proactively moved forward with important reforms,” he said. he declares. “We continually invest in training to ensure that our officers are the most skilled and capable force in the country.”

Rolfe’s lawyers said their client would make no statement and believed Skandalakis’ decision was the right one.

“Officer Rolfe is grateful for the support he has received from the community, members of the Atlanta Police Department, and citizens and law enforcement across the United States,” attorneys Noah said. H. Pines, Bill Thomas and Lance LoRusso in a statement. “He hopes any protest will remain peaceful.”

L. Chris Stewart, another attorney representing the Brooks family, said Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, expected the decision but was still heartbroken. Stewart said they are focused on getting justice for the family in the civil suit.

“Today we will take our fight to civil court because that seems to be the only place we can get justice,” he said.

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