[guest post by Dana]
The announcement was made this afternoon:
The Atlanta Police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s parking lot last week was charged with felony murder, and the other officer on scene was charged with aggravated assault, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced Wednesday.
The decision comes just five days after Brooks was shot twice in the back in Atlanta during an attempted arrest. Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot at Brooks three times, faces 11 charges in all, and officer Devin Brosnan, who was also on scene, faces three charges.
After shooting Brooks, Rolfe said “I got him” and kicked him, and Brosnan then stood on Brooks’ shoulder, Howard said. The officers did not provide medical aid to Brooks for more than two minutes after he was shot, Howard said.
Their demeanor after the shooting “did not reflect any fear or danger of Mr. Brooks, but reflected other kinds of emotions,” Howard said.
Three of the counts against Rolfe are for aggravated assault related to a bullet he fired that hit an occupied vehicle nearby in the Wendy’s lot. Brosnan’s three charges include two counts of violations of oath of office.
Before his encounter with Brooks, Rolfe had already faced complaints against him:
Rolfe was reprimanded in a September 2016 use-of-force incident involving a firearm…No other details were provided.
He also has four citizen complaints on his record, none of which resulted in disciplinary action. Records also show that Rolfe, who was hired in 2013, was involved in five vehicular accidents. One resulted in an oral admonishment and another in a written reprimand, while the rest led to no disciplinary action.
Rolfe’s record also shows an additional use-of-firearms incident, in 2015, without note of any disciplinary action.
Law enforcement believes the shooting was justified:
But some law enforcement leaders said the shooting was justified and protected by Georgia law — which allows a person to use deadly force “only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person.”
Steven Gaynor, the president of the Cobb County Fraternal Order of Police, defended the shooting by saying Brooks posed a threat and had assaulted the officers as he was getting arrested.
“(Georgia law) specifically gives (the officer) the right based on the aggravated assaults and the threat (Brooks) poses to the public and to the officers there,” Gaynor said. “It specifically gives them by law the right to shoot him. (Brooks) chose to make those actions. He chose to to do what he did.”
There is conflicting opinion about the dangers of the Taser that Brooks took from one of the police officers:
The Taser is designed to be less lethal than a firearm, but it can be fatal in some circumstances.
Just two weeks ago… Howard charged several Atlanta Police officers with aggravated assault after they allegedly used a Taser — referred to in the arrest warrant as “a deadly weapon” — on two college students.
“The training we have had for over 20 years tells us if they take your baton or your Taser, it now becomes one step more that you have to use deadly force,” Gaynor said. “Because those can be used against you to incapacitate you and then take your weapon.”
The attorney for the Brooks family told CNN said earlier this week that a taser is not a deadly weapon.
In 2017, Reuters published a comprehensive look at Tasers as a cause or contributor in individual deaths.