Atlanta, GA – A judge granted the former Atlanta police officer charged with the murder of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks a $500,000 bond on Tuesday, despite objections by the prosecution and the Brooks’ widow.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick set bond for former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe at $500,000, WPBF reported.
The hearing was held via teleconference on June 30, a week later than it was initially scheduled due to a conflict with Brooks’ funeral on June 23.
Defense attorneys argued that former Officer Rolfe had strong ties to the community and could have fled before he turned himself in to police two weeks earlier if he had planned to make a run for it.
Prosecutors argued the recently-fired police officer was an unemployed flight risk and said they were concerned he might try to intimidate witnesses, WPBF reported.
Brooks’ wife, Tomika Miller, made an impassioned plea to the judge for Rolfe to be kept behind bars.
Barwick thanked Miller’s brave appearance before the court but ultimately granted former Officer Rolfe a $500,000 bond, subject to a few conditions, WPBF reported.
The judge ordered Rolfe to wear an ankle monitor but was careful to guard the privacy of the former police officer’s location for safety reasons.
She took the recommendation of the prosecutors and ordered Rolfe to comply with a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. except for work, medical, or legal reasons.
The judge also ordered him to surrender his passport to his attorney in trust.
Former Officer Rolfe is not allowed to possess or carry firearms, including rifles, as a condition of his release.
Barwick also ordered Rolfe to not have any contact with any Atlanta police officer while he was out on bond, unless there is an emergency.
He was also ordered not to contact Brooks’ family members.
The judge refused to review the matter of the prosecution’s access to Rolfe’s cell phone during the hearing.
The district attorney’s office has possession of Rolfe’s phone but complained to the judge that the former officer had refused to give them the passcode.
The prosecutor asked the judge to make Rolfe turn over his passcode as a condition of his bond.
Barwick refused and said the cell phone passcode was a matter for another hearing.
She did remind Rolfe’s attorneys that they had an obligation to preserve the evidence after prosecutors worried Rolfe would remotely wipe his phone clean.
Former Officer Rolfe has been held in the Gwinnett County Jail since June 18 when he surrendered to the authorities on charges that included felony murder.
The other officer involved in the incident, Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan, also turned himself in the same day but was quickly released on a $50,000 signature bond.
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 Atlanta Police Officer Garrett 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.
On June 17, 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.
The district attorney also announced at his press conference on June 17 that Officer Brosnan was facing three felony charges.
But Howard bragged that Officer Brosnan had turned state’s witness to testify against former Officer Rolfe and implied the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) had blessed the charges.
Neither was true.
Officer Brosnan’s attorney quickly announced his client had not agreed to work with the prosecutor against his former fellow officer and the GBI released a statement that said they hadn’t even completed their investigation into the incident.
Don Samuel, one of Officer Brosnan’s attorneys, said that his client’s actions that night had been “exemplary” and that the district attorney’s office hadn’t even bothered to take him up on the offer to review Officer Brosnan’s medical records from after the incident.
“Devin ends up taking out his Taser and yelling at him to ‘stop fighting, stop fighting,’” Samuel said. “Mr. Brooks grabbed the Taser from him and shoots… Devin gets shot with the Taser.”
“He then falls over and lands on his head on the pavement and gets a concussion,” the attorney added.
Samuel also disputed the district attorney’s assertions that Officer Brosnan had committed aggravated assault on Brooks after he was shot.
At his charging press conference, the district attorney said that Officer Brosnan had stood on Brooks and that former Officer Rolfe had kicked the wounded man after he shot him.
But Samuel said his client, who had just received a concussion, didn’t even realize Brooks was shot when he “put his foot on the arm to make sure he didn’t have access to a weapon.”
“It’s not an assault. It’s a man suffering from a concussion,” the attorney said.
He said his client suffered a number of other injuries that had been documented at the hospital and in pictures.
An attorney for former Officer Rolfe accused the Fulton County district attorney of behaving “unethically” and capitalizing on a series of national tragedies to help his re-election campaign.
“I’ve been prosecuting or defending Georgians in the criminal justice system for 25 years,” attorney Noah Pines said in a lengthy statement posted to the official Facebook page of the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization.
“But never in my career have I seen a District Attorney act so unethically without regard for his professional obligations in pursuit of reelection,” the statement said.
“Twice in the past few weeks Paul Howard has put his own ambitions ahead of the good of his constituents as he seeks to capitalize on a series of national tragedies,” Pines said. “Under Georgia’s Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, Paul Howard is prohibited from making ‘extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.’”
“In fact, he is only permitted to inform the ‘pubic of the nature and extent’ of his actions ‘that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose,’” the attorney for former Officer Rolfe continued. “He has violated that rule today and also made blatant false statements. He has also acted rashly, before the official investigation has been completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).”