The police officer who was fired after fatally shooting a man in Atlanta last year was reinstated on Wednesday by a city board.
Garrett Rolfe did not receive the mandatory 10 days notice, the Atlanta Civil Service Board said in its decision.
Rolfe, a seven-year veteran of the force, was fired on June 13, 2020, one day after he shot Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s. Rolfe told the board during a hearing last month that he got a call alerting him to the termination, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the firing at a press conference.
During the hearing, Sgt. William Dean, an APD veteran of 25 years who is currently assigned to the Internal Affairs Advocacy Unit of Internal Affairs, told members that the termination seemed rushed and that sufficient time was not provided to Rolfe to submit a response.
“Sergeant Dean testified that during his tenure in Internal Affairs, he was unaware of any employment termination of an APD officer for alleged firearms infractions without APD having first conducted the requisite investigations,” the board said in a hearing summary.
“We are very pleased at this action and consider it the first step in the total vindication of Officer Garrett Rolfe,” Lance LoRusso, who is representing Rolfe, told The Epoch Times in an email.
L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Brooks’s family, told reporters that the city was at fault for not following proper procedure.
Bottoms’s office said in an emailed statement that Rolfe will remain on administrative leave until his criminal charges are resolved.
“Given the volatile state of our city and nation last summer, the decision to terminate this officer, after he fatally shot Mr. Brooks in the back, was the right thing to do. Had immediate action not been taken, I firmly believe that the public safety crisis we experienced during that time would have been significantly worse,” the mayor, a Democrat, said.
According to city ordinances, Rolfe will be reinstated with back pay, his lawyer said. “We are working with the city and have not received specifics on his status upon his reinstatement,” LoRusso added.
Rolfe shot Brooks after the man resisted arrest and grabbed an officer’s Taser.
Footage from body cameras and the Wendy’s showed Brooks moving away from Rolfe but reaching back to fire the stun gun. Rolfe fired several shots from his gun, striking Brooks twice in the back.
Rolfe remains free on bail.