Judge says Atlanta police prosecutions remain with district attorney

The cases behind the police killing of Rayshard Brooks and arrests of college students in Atlanta to remain with Fulton County's Fani Willis' office

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A judge said Friday that two high-profile cases involving allegations of excessive force against Atlanta police officers remain the responsibility of the local district attorney even though she has tried to recuse herself from the cases.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked Attorney General Chris Carr in January and again last month to assign the cases to another prosecutor. She raised concerns that actions by her predecessor made it inappropriate for her office to continue to handle the cases. After Carr twice rejected her requests, Willis last month asked the court to decide who should handle the prosecutions.

Fani Willis (via screenshot)

Fulton County Magistrate Judge Todd Ashley said Friday that he wasn’t going to second-guess the attorney general. “It’s the DA’s case until it’s not,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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At issue are the cases against two officers charged in a fatal confrontation with Rayshard Brooks and six officers facing charges after two college students were stunned with Tasers and pulled from their car. Willis’ predecessor, Paul Howard, brought charges against the officers within days of each incident last summer.

In her letters to Carr, Willis argued Howard may have violated a state bar rule by using video evidence in television advertisements for his reelection campaign and noted that an investigation was underway into whether Howard improperly issued grand jury subpoenas in one of the cases.

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Kevin Armstrong, an attorney for Willis, argued during a hearing Friday that the district attorney needs to be recused and cited a “concern that exists only for our office” but didn’t say what that was, the newspaper reported.

“The unrevealed information highly complicates the situation,” Ashley said.

The judge suggested that Willis send another recusal request “that may yield a different response.”

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