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DA Tries Obtaining Search Warrant To Get Names Of Donors On Garrett Rolfe’s Fundraiser

Atlanta, GA – A judge denied an application from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for a search warrant to find out who had donated to the legal defense fund for former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe and what had been done with the money that was raised.

Former Officer Rolfe is facing a murder charge for shooting Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot after the suspect pointed a Taser he had just stolen from another officer at then-Officer Rolfe’s head.

The DA’s office sought the warrant in their quest for information to bolster a possible bail-jumping charge after the former police officer left Fulton County to visit relatives in Florida while he was out on bond.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick refused to revoke former Officer Rolfe’s bond, but she issued a stern warning to the former police officer to stay home and adhere to the conditions of his bond going forward, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

A day later, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney denied the search warrant for the fundraising campaign.

McBurney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he “did not find there was enough probable cause to sign that warrant.”

Former Officer Rolfe has been out on a $500,000 bond since June 30.

He had been held in the Gwinnett County Jail since he surrendered to authorities on June 18.

The shooting occurred after officers responded to a call for a man asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru late on June 12.

Officers administered a field sobriety test and established probable cause to arrest Brooks, but when they went to put the suspect in handcuffs, the previously-calm man attacked them.

Brooks stole Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan’s Taser, tased the officer, and then fled with the weapon in hand.

Former Officer Rolfe pursued Brooks on foot with his own Taser in hand, until Brooks turned back and fired his Taser at Officer Rolfe’s head.

That’s when Officer Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his pistol, and fatally shot Brooks.

On June 17, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard held a press conference to announce he was charging former Officer Rolfe with murder for the fatal shooting of Brooks after Brooks discharged Officer Brosnan’s Taser at Officer Rolfe.

A few day after the shooting, the non-profit Georgia Law Enforcement Organization established a fundraising campaign to help cover the former officer’s legal fees and family expenses, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The campaign quickly raised more than $500,000 for former Officer Rolfe.

The judge said that prosecutors wanted to know who set up the fundraiser, how much had been raised, and where the contributions went, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Rolfe’s attorneys said they thought Howard wanted to use the warrant as “a pretext to intimidate the people who have spoken out on behalf of our client.”

The former officer’s attorneys, who filed a motion in late July to recuse Howard from the case because they said the prosecutor has made unethical public statements about the case, said the district attorney should have held off on the warrant until after the hearing on his recusal.

“He could have waited for a ruling before taking further action,” Noah Pines, one of former Officer Rolfe’s attorneys, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Instead, he sought to uncover the private information of Americans who donated to Garrett Rolfe’s defense because they believed in his innocence.”

Pines said he didn’t think the search warrant had anything to do with bail jumping.

The attorney accused Howard of seeking the search warrant for the fundraising campaign as “a pretext to intimidate the people who have spoken out on behalf of our client,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Additionally, Chief Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher ordered Fulton County prosecutors to respond to the recusal motion by Monday.

The recusal motion from the defense came after the district attorney dismissed calls for an independent prosecutor and refused to step down from the Brooks case.

“Paul Howard has systematically sought to deprive Garrett Rolfe of a fair trial and impartial jury since the day he announced his decision to arrest Garrett Rolfe,” the motion filed on July 20 read, according to WSB.

“Because Paul Howard’s statements to the public were ethically inappropriate, because Paul Howard will be a necessary witness in this case, and because Paul Howard is currently under criminal investigation by the GBI for his actions in this case, we move to recuse Paul Howard and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case against Garrett Rolfe,” it read.

The long-time Fulton County district attorney was soundly defeated by his opponent in a Democratic primary runoff on Tuesday.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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