Fired Atlanta Police Officer Charged With Felony Murder in Death of Rayshard Brooks

June 17, 2020 Updated: June 18, 2020

Garret Rolfe, a former Atlanta Police officer, was charged Wednesday with 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in the slaying of Rayshard Brooks.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced that Brooks’s cooperative demeanor before the arrest attempt played a role in the decision to charge Rolfe. He suggested that Brooks didn’t appear to present a threat.

“Even though Mr. Brooks was slightly impaired, his demeanor during this incident was almost jovial,” Howard said at a press conference after his team studied video evidence, spoke with 10 witnesses, and consulted with an expert on stun guns.

“Brooks never displayed any aggressive behavior during the 41 minutes and 17 seconds,” the district attorney said, referring to the period of time that led up to the altercation, and “never displayed himself as a threat.”

Brooks resisted arrest, triggering an altercation that saw him wrestle with the two officers before he snatched one of their stun guns and turned and pointed it at one of them as he ran through the parking lot.

Rolfe also kicked Brooks while the man was on the ground and “fighting for his life,” Howard said.

“Once Mr. Brooks was shot, there is an Atlanta policy that requires that the officers have to provide timely medical attention to Mr. Brooks or to anyone who is injured. But after Mr. Brooks was shot, for some period of 2 minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied to Mr. Brooks,” the district attorney remarked.

Atlanta Police Shooting
Rayshard Brooks speaking with officer Garrett Rolfe in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 12, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

Howard also said that Brooks, 27, was “never informed” that he was being arrested for driving under the influence.

An attorney representing Rolfe said in a statement prior to the press conference that said the officer “was polite and courteous to Mr. Brooks during the entire encounter” and “Mr. Brooks was polite and cooperative until Officer Rolfe placed him under arrest.”

“Suddenly, without warning or provocation, Mr. Brooks chose to violently attack two uniformed police officers. Officers Brosnan and Rolfe used the least amount of force possible in their attempts to place Mr. Brooks into handcuffs. They attempted to leverage him to the ground while giving him loud, clear verbal commands. In response, Mr. Brooks continued actively resisting lawful efforts to arrest him,” the attorney said.

While Brooks began running through the parking lot, he “reached back with his arm extended and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe.”

“Officer Rolfe heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him,” the statement said. In fear of his safety, he fired at Brooks.

A second officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative leave after the incident. He faces three charges, including aggravated assault.

Justin Miller, who is representing Brooks’ widow Tomika Miller, told reporters after the charging announcement that the charges were just the first step. “Step two is convictions on all charges,” he said.

Tomika Miller said she was hurt to hear an officer kicked her husband after he was shot, saying: “I felt everything he felt just by hearing it. What he went through. It hurt. It hurts really bad.”

Brooks was killed in a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta after Rolfe and Brosnan responded to a 911 call about a man who seemed intoxicated sleeping in his car in the drive-through. The caller reportedly told the dispatcher that Brooks was parked in the middle of the drive-through, forcing other cars to drive around his vehicle.

People watch as a Wendy’s burns
People watch as a Wendy’s burns following a rally against racial inequality and the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 13, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

An autopsy revealed Brooks was shot in the back twice.

The shooting sparked new demonstrations in Georgia’s capital against police brutality, after occasionally turbulent protests in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis had largely simmered down. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned less than 24 hours after Brooks died.

Amid the protests, the Wendy’s location was burned to the ground. Police and fire officials have released photos of two suspects who might be responsible for the arson.

Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.