Atlanta

Prosecutors to drop charges against officers involved in Rayshard Brooks shooting

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MORROW, Ga. (Atlanta Now News at 10) — In the latest development, prosecutors investigating whether to pursue charges against the Atlanta police officers involved in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks said they plan to have the charges dismissed.

The deadly incident happened during a tumultuous time in 2020, following the police involved deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Prosecutors say Brooks’s death was not racially motivated.

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“Based on the facts and circumstances confronting Officer Rolfe and Officer Brosnan in this case, it is my conclusion that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and that they did not act with criminal intent,” said David Porter, a former district attorney with the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit who reviewed the case with the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia (PAC).

Porter and PAC’s Executive Director Peter Skandalakis said they hired analysts to review the chain of events that led to Brooks’s death outside a Wendy’s restaurant in June 2020. They concluded Atlanta Police Officers Devin Brosnan and Garrett Rolfe should not face charges.

“We do not look at this with 20/20 hindsight. We look at it with what information the officers had in a dynamic situation that is quickly evolving and is causing them to react,” said Skandalakis.

He said police body cam footage did not tell the whole story, and frame by frame, he broke down Wendy’s surveillance footage and cell phone video taken by witnesses. Prosecutors described the witness video taken as officers tried handcuffing Brooks, saying it shows him fighting and overpowering the officers and tasing them with Brosnan’s taser while running away. However, they mainly examined Rolfe’s actions.

“Given the quickly changing circumstances, was it objectively reasonable that he use deadly force? And we conclude it was,” Skandalakis said, regarding Rolfe.

Prosecutors also referenced an autopsy report that showed cocaine and methamphetamine in Brooks’s system, as well as a blood alcohol level that was above the legal limit.

Attorneys Noah H. Pines, Bill Thomas and Lance LoRusso issued the following statements on the officers’ behalf.

Garrett Rolfe is relieved that the criminal charges filed against him by former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard have finally been dismissed and that he has been exonerated for his actions on June 12, 2020.

As concluded by the Director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of the State of Georgia, Pete Skandalakis, who was appointed to handle this case by Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr, the evidence and applicable law supports Officer Rolfe’s actions on June 12, 2020. As stated by Director Skandalakis, there is no evidence that Officer Rolfe acted with criminal intent and therefore the charges against him will be dismissed.
Officer Rolfe is thankful for the support he received from the community, members of the Atlanta Police Department, and from citizens and law enforcement across the United States. He hopes that any protests will remain peaceful. He will not be making any statements at this time.

It has been our privilege to represent Garrett Rolfe.

This was the proper and only decision that could be reached based upon the evidence and
Georgia law. As to Officer Brosnan, this decision is long overdue.

More than two years after the incident that resulted in Rayshard Brooks’s death, the State of
Georgia has finally arrived at the right decision: that Officer Brosnan’s arrest was never
supported by any evidence. Officer Brosnan was assaulted and tased by Mr. Brooks, and as a
result suffered a concussion and required medical treatment. Despite his own injuries, he called
for and personally rendered aid to Mr. Brooks after the shooting. At no point did he assault or
abuse Mr. Brooks.

Officer Brosnan and his family thank the countless members of the public and law enforcement
community around the United States who have voiced their support and sent their prayers.
Officer Brosnan will not be making any further statements at this time.

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“The 11th Circuit has made it very clear. It says we are not to view the matter as judges from the comfort and safety of our chambers, fearful of nothing more threatening than the occasional paper cut. We must see the situation from the eyes of the officer on the scene,” Skandalakis said.

Attorneys for Brooks’s family held a press conference hours later, and both attorneys acknowledged Brooks was at fault for fighting the officers. However, they said Brooks should be alive and in jail instead of dead.

“No person in this country should fight with police officers. No one. Ever. Because, during that fight, they were justified in using deadly force. 100%. But, they did not. They chose not to when they were justified, but they decided to use lethal force as a man was running away, 19 feet away,” said L. Chris Stewart, one of the family’s attorneys with Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys.

“There are 100 other tools at your disposal that you can use as a police officer to catch a suspect that’s fleeing. They have helicopters. They have other police officers. They have K9 units,” said Justin Miller, another attorney representing the family.

Miller said Brooks’s widow, Tomika Miller, was nearly too emotional to talk after hearing about the decision, and he referenced their children. “This woman lost a husband. These children lost a father,” he said.

They plan to continue their fight in civil court.

Mayor Andre Dickens issued this statement:

My heart continues to ache for the family of Rayshard Brooks. He was a father whose absence will forever be felt by our community.

This matter was referred to the special prosecutor last year. I respect the independent role that the special prosecutor played in this case. Today, we received his decision.

Over the last two years, our country has been engaged in important discussions about policing in America. We must maintain our commitment to the work of creating safe communities through collaboration between police and the people they serve.

In Atlanta, we hold ourselves to the highest standards. Through engagement with community advocates, the Atlanta City Council, the Atlanta Police Department and others, we have listened and moved forward proactively with significant reforms. The Department has reviewed its standard operating procedures and enhanced training on how to deescalate confrontations. We are continually investing in training to ensure our officers make up the most qualified and proficient force in the country.

As Mayor, I remain committed to building the bonds of trust between our residents and the public safety personnel who serve us.

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Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs issued this statement:

It’s extremely concerning when individuals selected to ensure that the law is applied without bias and speculation make a conclusion outside the presence of the citizens of Fulton County, in the setting of a Fulton County Grand Jury. Grand juries and trials exist to ensure that justice is truly blind. Justice wasn’t blind today, and neither were the officers when they approached Rayshard Brooks. A Fulton County Grand Jury should’ve decided the fate of Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, not two former members of law enforcement. There is no statute of limitations on a murder case, and there will be no statute of limitations on our efforts to ensure there is justice for Rayshard Brooks.

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