Atlanta officer who killed Rayshard Brooks reinstated

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The officer charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks was recently reinstated to the force and will remain on administrative leave as decided by the Atlanta Civil Service Board.

Garrett Rolfe was initially fired from the Atlanta Police Department for his involvement in the shooting of Brooks in June 2020. But on Wednesday, The Atlanta Civil Service Board decided he was wrongfully terminated and plans to reverse that decision, per NBC News. The board decided that the city in Georgia failed “to comply with several provisions” of the Atlanta City Code and “the information received during witnesses’ testimony,” per the five-page decision.

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“The Board concludes the appellant was not afforded his right to due process. Therefore, the Board grants the appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD,” read the official document.

Rolfe was initially fired on June 13, the day after the shooting. In August, he filed a suit against then-interim police Chief Rodney Bryant and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Last month, during a virtual hearing with the board, the officer requested back pay, benefits and to be back on the force.

The suit argues Rolfe was let go “without an investigation, without proper notice, without a pre-disciplinary hearing, and in direct violation of the municipal code of the city of Atlanta.” It adds that the force Rolfe used against Brooks “was proper and in compliance with Georgia law,” according to the police department’s policies.

Photo: NBC News

In June 2020, Brooks and fellow Officer Devin Brosnan visited a Wendys after receiving a call about a man sleeping in the driver’s seat of a car in the restaurant’s drive-thru. Bodycam footage shows Brooks complying with the officer’s requests, although he failed a sobriety test.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said a struggle happened between the victim and the officers as they tried to arrest him. Brooks allegedly grabbed an officer’s stun gun and ran with it. He was then shot twice in the back. Over two minutes had passed before Brooks was offered any medical aid.  

Rolfe also kicked Brooks’ body while Brosnan stood on his shoulders, according to the district attorney.

“When we examined the videotape and in our discussions with witnesses, what we discovered is during the 2 minutes and 12 seconds, Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks while he laid on the ground. While he was there fighting for his life,” said then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard after the incident, per NBC News.

“Secondly, from the videotape, we were able to see that the other officer, Officer Brosnan, actually stood on Mr. Brooks’ shoulders while he was there struggling for his life.”

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Both men were charged for their participation in the killing. Rolfe was charged with 11 counts: violation of oath, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, including felony murder, and criminal damage to proper. Brosnan was put on administrative leave and charged with two counts of violation of oath and one count of aggravated assault.

According to Howard, Brooks was never told he was under arrest for driving under the influence. He adds, Brooks “never presented himself as a threat” and appeared “almost jovial.”

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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On Wednesday, the attorneys representing the family of Rayshard Brooks called out the city for the part they played in Rolfe’s firing and reinstating to the police force, per AJC.com.

“We find it mind-boggling they weren’t aware of the proper procedure,” said attorney Chris Stewart. “Was that done to temporarily pacify the protesters and people around the world who were upset? Right now, Officer Rolfe has received more justice than the family of Rayshard Brooks.”

Stewart and his co-counsel Justin Miller shared that Brooks’s family was “confused and disappointed” to hear the recent news. More than anything, they were questioning the city’s push towards real change against police brutality.

“The city, the police department and the DA’s office are not really serious about civil rights,” Miller said.

“This was really procedural,” Stewart added. “And the procedures were not followed.”

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