Atlanta, GA – Newly-released details from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) report on the officer-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks contradicted statements the former district attorney made when he announced 11 charges, including murder, against Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe.
Noah Pines, an attorney for Officer Rolfe, has accused now-former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard of trying to use the prosecution of the officer to his political advantage during a hotly-contested re-election bid last year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“Paul Howard disregarded the evidence and the experts and arrested Officer Rolfe in an attempt to help his bid for re-election,” Pines said in a written statement. “Paul Howard and his staff misinformed the public and the Court as to the facts of this case.”
The attorney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Howard’s statements to the public and the arguments made by prosecutors from his office at Officer Rolfe’s bond hearing in June of 2020 “were not accurate, omitted exculpatory facts, and could have impacted this Court’s decision to impose restrictive conditions of bond.”
GBI investigates almost every shooting in the state involving law enforcement but Howard said last June that the state agency didn’t need to investigate the Brooks shooting, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
He said the video and witness testimony were enough and charged Officer Rolfe five days after the incident, three months before the GBI’s investigation of the shooting was completed.
Howard claimed Brooks posed no threat to officers and was only “slightly impaired,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
However, the GBI’s report came to very different conclusions.
It turned out that Brooks was on probation at the time of the incident and had drugs inside his vehicle in the Wendy’s parking lot, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
He would have gone back to prison if he had been arrested for driving under the influence and the drugs had been found after police caught him asleep in his car at the fast food drive-thru.
A motion filed by the defense to change the terms of Officer Rolfe’s bond said that methamphetamines and eutylone, a designer drug stimulant, were found in Brooks’ vehicle, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The toxicology tests conducted by GBI’s lab found Brooks’ blood contained cocaine, a prescription sedative, and eutylone when he was shot.
Pines’ motion also pointed to the fact Howard had claimed Officer Rolfe said “I got him” and no witnesses had confirmed that, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
He also said video proved Officer Rolfe had not kicked Brooks after he shot him as the former district attorney claimed at the time he announced charges against the officer.
Howard lost his re-election bid and was replaced by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Willis recused her office from the case because of obvious conflicts of interest and Officer Rolfe has been left in limbo until a judge decides who has jurisdiction to proceed with the prosecution, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
In the meantime, Pines wants the judge to reconsider the terms of his client’s bond, based on the accurate information in the GBI report and the fact that Officer Rolfe has been reinstated to the police department.
“Now that the independent investigation by the GBI has been completed and Paul Howard is no longer around to misinform the public and this Court about the facts of this case, it is time for this Court to re-examine the conditions of bond imposed on Officer Rolfe,” the motion read.
Pines wants the judge to allow Officer Rolfe to have a gun and permit him to interact with other police officers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The attorney’s motion also requested removal of Officer Rolfe’s ankle monitor, permission to leave the state, and an end to a curfew.
The fatal shooting that led to former Officer Rolfe’s arrest occurred after officers responded to a call for a man asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru late on June 12, 2020.
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.
Officer Rolfe pursued Brooks on foot with his own Taser in hand, until Brooks turned back and fired his Taser at Officer Rolfe.
That’s when Officer Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his pistol, and fatally shot Brooks.
Now-former Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields fired Officer Rolfe the day after the shooting.
Now-former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard held a press conference five days later to announce he was charging the former officer with murder for the fatal shooting of Brooks.
Howard also announced that Officer Brosnan was facing three felony charges and that he had turned state’s witness on Officer Rolfe.
That turned out not to be true.
Attorneys for Officer Rolfe filed a lawsuit to get his job back in August of 2020.
The lawsuit claimed that his termination violated his constitutional rights and the Atlanta city code, the Associated Press reported.
It argued that then-Officer Rolfe used deadly force against Brooks “within the scope and course of his duties” as a response to “Brooks’ violent, unlawful, aggressive resistance to a lawful arrest.”
Attorneys for the former officer argued in the complaint that their client could have only been terminated for cause and that he was entitled to due process.
The city’s Civil Service Board agreed the officer had been denied due process and reinstated Officer Rolfe on May 5.
He has been placed on paid administrative leave until the criminal proceedings have concluded.