Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks Charged with Murder, as DA Says Cop Kicked Fallen Victim
Garrett Rolfe, the fired Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks last Friday, has been charged with felony murder and 10 other crimes, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced at a Wednesday press conference.
Brooks, 27, was shot in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant on June 12.
Howard alleged that after shooting Brooks, Rolfe allegedly kicked the victim when he was on the ground struggling for his life.
Howard also alleged that the other officer present, Devin Brosnan, stood on top of Brooks after he'd been shot.
In addition to felony murder, Rolfe is charged with several aggravated assault charges, criminal damage to property and seven violations of oath of office. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.
Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault and two violations of oath of office.
Both suspects must surrender by 6 p.m. on Thursday, Howard said.
It was not immediately clear if either man had retained an attorney to comment on his behalf.
Encounter in Drive-Thru Turns Tragic
Police responded to the fast food restaurant after Brooks, who is survived by his three daughters and a stepson, fell asleep behind the wheel of his rental car while waiting in the drive-thru lane.
Brosnan, the responding officer, arrived at the scene at around 10:42 p.m., nearly 10 minutes after the initial call came in to 911. The officer roused Brooks from sleep, and had him pull into a parking spot nearby.
Alleging Brooks smelled of alcohol, Brosnan requested a DUI certified officer; Rolfe was dispatched to the scene to assess the situation.
Brooks, who was unarmed, performed several field sobriety tests and was asked to submit to a Breathalyzer, which he did. When Rolfe and Brosnan attempted to handcuff him, believing him intoxicated, the interaction turned violent. Brooks resisted the officers' attempts to take him into custody.
Less than a minute later, Brooks was shot.
The footage shows Brooks struggling with both officers on the parking lot pavement. The officers order Brooks to stop resisting, and they threaten him with stun guns. As the three men wrestle, Brooks manages to take a stun gun from Brosnan's hand, stand up, and punch Rolfe.
Rolfe fires his stun gun, striking Brooks, who starts running from the officers. Rolfe runs after Brooks, and during the chase, Brooks aims Brosnan's stun gun at Rolfe and fires it without appearing to hit him.
Video shows that, prior to Brooks pointing the stun gun at Rolfe, the officer passed his Taser to his left hand from his right hand. He then reached for his handgun with his free hand. Rolfe drops his Taser, pulls his weapon and fires it three times. Brooks falls to the ground.
For about a minute, the two officers can be seen standing over Brooks, who is still moving. Nearly three minutes after the shooting, the officers begin to provide medical aid to him.
The ambulance that would take Brooks to the hospital left the parking lot at 11:30 p.m. Brooks died eight minutes later after surgery.
DA: Brooks 'Never Presented Himself as a Threat'
Howard said the charges followed an investigation that involved extensive reviews of enhanced eyewitness-filmed footage of the shooting.
Howard also said that one of the vehicles idling in the drive-thru line was struck by a bullet fired from Rolfe’s weapon.
Discussing the footage, Howard said Brooks was "cooperative" with the officers for over 41 minutes, noting he appeared only "slightly impaired."
“His demeanor was almost jovial,” Howard said. “We also noted that he received many instructions from the Atlanta officers and answered many questions” for 41 minutes and 17 seconds, and followed the officers’ instructions.
Howard also alleged Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest for driving while under the influence before the officers tried to take him into custody.
Howard said Brooks “never presented himself as a threat” during his interactions with the officers.
He said the demeanor of the officers "did not reflect any fear" of Brooks, "but it reflected other kinds of emotions.” Howard also noted that after shooting Brooks, Rolfe said, "I got him."
According to Howard, both officers failed to provide timely medical assistance to Brooks while he was lying on the ground.
One of the two bullets fired from Rolfe’s gun struck Brooks in the heart, Howard said.
The arrests of the Atlanta officers comes weeks after authorities in Minneapolis filed charges against the four officers involved in the death of George Floyd.
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Fired officer Derek Chauvin, 44, is being held on $1.25 million bail, after being charged with third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and manslaughter.
The three other officers present during Floyd's detainment — Thomas Lane, 37, Tou Thao, 34, and J. Alexander Kueng, 26 — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
None of the defendants has entered pleas to the charges against them, and lawyers for the four officers have yet to respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.