The white Atlanta police officer who shot a 27-year-old black man in the back last week in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant will face a charge of felony murder and 10 other charges, a Georgia county prosecutor announced Wednesday.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots at Rayshard Brooks, could face a possible sentence of life without parole or the death penalty.
Rolfe, who has since been fired from the police department, was also charged withaggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violations of office.
The other officer, Devin Brosnan, who remains with the Atlanta Police Department and has been placed on administrative desk duty, is also facing charges. Among them is aggravated assault, which carries a possible sentence of one to 20 years in prison.
Arrests warrants have been issued for both men.
The decision to bring charges comes five days after the officers were called to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant. They found Brooks asleep in his car, and he admitted to officers that he had been drinking earlier.
Video released by police over the weekend shows that Brooks was speaking with officers for nearly a half hour. It includes him doing a field sobriety test, which he failed.
Things took a turn when the officers attempted to put handcuffs on Brooks. He was able to grab one of the officer’s stun gun, and starts to run off.
Then, Rolfe pulled up his service weapon and fired.
Howard, the Fulton County district attorney, said during the press briefing that Brooks “never presented himself as a threat.”
“At the very beginning he was peacefully sleeping in his car, after he was awakened by the officer he was cooperative, and he was directed to move his car to another location. He calmly moved his car,” Howard said.
“Mr. Brooks never displayed any aggressive behavior,” he added.
He also noted that for a period of more than two minutes after he was shot, “there was no medical attention applied to Mr. Brooks.”
Brooks’ killing comes as protests continue across many cities in the United States to call attention to systemic racism and social injustices, including police brutality on communities of color.
Those protests coincide with the recent high-profile killings of black Americans by law enforcement, including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor and David McAtee in Louisville. A former police officer is among those accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in February in Glynn County, Ga.
In the case of McAtee, Kentucky officials said last week that the investigation is ongoing. Officials also determined the fatal shot on June 1 came from the Kentucky National Guard, which were working with police.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said during a Monday press conference that Brooks’ death “angered me and it saddened me beyond words.”
“Friday evening we saw the murder of Rayshard Brooks,” Bottoms said. “It is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste.”
She also announced administrative orders aimed at reforming the Atlanta Police Department’s use-of-force rules and de-escalation protocols.
Over the weekend, the mayor accepted the resignation of police chief Erika Shields. As Georgia Public Broadcasting reported, a nationwide search for her replacement is underway, and the mayor has said that Shields will serve in a role that is “to be determined.”
AJC reported Rolfe received a written reprimand in 2017 for using his firearm. His file, according to the paper, included a dozen other incidents ranging from vehicle accidents to complaints from citizens.
“He was exonerated in nine of those internal investigations,” AJC reported.
The Guardian reported about a 2015 incident where Rolfe and two other officers shot at Jackie Jermaine Harris, who was caught driving a stolen vehicle. Harris rammed a law enforcement vehicle, the paper reported, and the officers shot at him multiple times.
“However, the shooting was not reported by the police involved,” the Guardian added. Harris, like Brooks, is African American.”