Former Atlanta officer who shot Rayshard Brooks charged with felony murder

An arrest warrant has been issued for the former Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, in a Wendy's parking lot Friday.

Fulton County District Attorney (DA) Paul Howard Jr. said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that Garrett Rolfe, 27, has been charged with 11 criminal counts, the most serious being felony murder.

A felony murder conviction carries with it a possible sentence of life in prison, life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

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An arrest warrant has also been issued for Devin Brosnan, the other officer on the scene. He has been charged with three criminal counts, the most serious being aggravated assault.

Howard announced that Brosnan would become a witness of the state of Georgia, an unprecedented move in such a case.

Howard said that his office had worked with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department to investigate Brooks’s death, interviewing multiple witnesses and analyzing several video recordings of the incident.

With that evidence, Howard said, authorities concluded that Brooks “never presented himself as a threat” during the interaction. He noted that before Rolfe shot him, Brooks had engaged in a lengthy conversation with Rolfe and Brosnan, during which he was “calm” and “cordial.”

Howard added that Brooks was compliant with the officers, from moving his car out of the drive-thru lane to undergoing a body pat-down after he said he wasn’t in possession of any weapons.

In a violation of Atlanta law, Rolfe never informed Brooks that he was under arrest for driving under the influence, Howard said.

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The altercation between Rolfe and Brooks began when the officer put Brooks's hands behind his back. Brooks then grabbed Brosnan’s Taser and started to run away, Howard said.

Brooks fired the Taser twice. Howard noted that at this point, the Taser was no longer a threat to Rolfe or Brosnan.

As Brooks was running away, Rolfe fired his Taser at Brooks. Firing a Taser at a someone who is running away is against the law in Atlanta.

Rolfe then fired two shots at Brooks, both hitting him in the back. The first shot punctured his heart.

Under federal law, a law enforcement officer can shoot a fleeing suspect only if the officer has probable cause that the suspect poses a threat to the officer or the public.

“Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat,” Howard said.

In the instance of a shooting, Atlanta law enforcement officers are required to administer first aid immediately. Howard said that evidence showed a two-minute gap between Brooks being shot and first aid being administered.

During that time, Rolfe kicked Brooks while he was on the ground “struggling for his life,” while Brosnan stood on Brooks’s shoulders.

Brosnan admitted to those actions while later talking to police and said he was surprised that the situation had escalated.

Howard said he appreciated Brosnan’s “courage” to become a witness in the case, noting that such cooperation from an involved officer is extremely rare.

However, Don Samuel, Brosnan’s attorney, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Brosnan had not agreed to be a witness for the state.

“The decision to initiate charges by the Fulton County DA’s office is irrational, unethical and obviously based on factors which should have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice,” Samuel said in a statement.

Howard recommended that bond be set at $50,000 for Brosnan but urged that Rolfe be denied bail.

Updated at 5:15 p.m.