June 14, 2020 | 4:39pm | Updated June 14, 2020 | 8:47pmEnlarge Image
Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe Atlanta Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
The Atlanta cop who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks could face a felony murder charge, Fulton County’s top prosecutors said Sunday.
Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard said his office will decide this week if Garrett Rolfe, who was fired following Friday’s fatal shooting, will be charged in the case — and said that could mean a murder charge, he told CNN.
“(Brooks) did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable,” Howard told the network. “If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save that officer’s life or prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law.”
“There are really three charges that are relevant,” he said. “One would be the murder charge in the state of Georgia. That charge is a charge that is directly related to an intent to kill. The second charge is felony murder. And that is a charge that involves a death that comes as a result of the commission of an underlying felony, and in this case, that underlying felony would be aggravated assault.”
“But I believe in this instance, what we have to choose between — if there’s a choice to be made — is between murder and felony murder.”
Howard said in a release that an autopsy of Brooks’ body was completed Sunday, and that the medical examiner’s report and ballistics information will be required for him to make the call.
However, he said prosecutors “are still experiencing some difficulty in obtaining all of the body cam and dash cam footage from the Atlanta Police Department.”
Brooks, 27, was shot by Rolfe during a foot chase following a field sobriety test in the parking lot of an Atlanta Wendy’s restaurant Friday. Rolfe and a second officer, Devin Brosnan, chased Brooks after he grabbed one of their Tasers and ran off.
He was shot three times in the back while fleeing. Rolfe was fired Saturday and Brosnan was put on administrative leave.
Brooks’ shooting is the latest caught-on-video death of a black man by police in recent months — and has sparked new outrage among protesters already inflamed by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer and the February killing of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery by three white men now charged with murder in Brunswick, Georgia.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now probing Brooks’ shooting death, and Howard said his office will make a decision on whether to file criminal charges “around Wednesday.”
“There’s one good thing about video,” Howard told CNN’s Fredricka Whitefield, “because in the video we actually get a chance to hear the officer’s first statement after the shooting took place. And what the officer said is not that his life was saved. What his statement was, he said, ‘I got him.'”