Former Atlanta Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks Sues for Unlawful Dismissal

August 5, 2020 Updated: August 5, 2020

The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks during a confrontation in a Wendy’s parking lot in June has filed a lawsuit over his dismissal from the force, arguing that his firing violated his constitutional rights and caused him “to become a public spectacle and object of ridicule.”

Garrett Rolfe’s attorneys filed a petition on Aug. 4 (pdf) as part of a civil action lawsuit targeting the Interim Chief of the City of Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms, claiming the former officer “has suffered irreparable injury to his personal and professional reputation as a result of his unlawful dismissal.”

Rolfe was fired from the Atlanta Police Department on June 13, the day after he shot Brooks during an arrest attempt for suspected drunk driving.

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Then-Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe searches 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot in a still image from the video body camera of officer Devin Bronsan in Atlanta, Ga., on June 12, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department via Reuters)

Body cameras showed Rolfe and another officer, Devin Brosnan, talking to Brooks for around 40 minutes before trying to handcuff him, after which a struggle ensued, during which Brooks seized a Taser, ran with it, then turned around and shot it in the officers’ direction before Rolfe shot him twice.

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This screen grab taken from dashboard camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Rayshard Brooks, center, struggling with Officers Garrett Rolfe, left, and Devin Brosnan in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 13, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, claims Rolfe used deadly force “within the scope and course of his duties” in response to “Brooks’ violent, unlawful, aggressive resistance to a lawful arrest.”

It also claims that Rolfe, who faces 11 charges, including felony murder, was fired “without an investigation, without proper notice, without a disciplinary hearing, and in direct violation of the municipal code of the City of Atlanta.”

“As a result of the unlawful action of the Respondent, the Petitioner has become a public spectacle and object of ridicule. His unlawful termination was unnecessarily public and has attracted national media attention,” the petition says, noting also that, “Many other City of Atlanta Police Officers who have been charged with crimes, including felonies, have remained employed during the investigation and pendency of their criminal charges.”

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Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe, who was fired after the shooting death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, poses in an undated photograph released in Atlanta, Ga., June 14, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department/Handout via Reuters)

The complaint says Rolfe’s firing violated his rights and his loss of pay hampers his ability to challenge his termination by legal means.

The suit calls for Rolfe to be reinstated immediately, with back pay and any benefits that would normally be afforded to him as an employee of the force, like sick leave and seniority.

Rolfe was released on a $500,000 bond in July.

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