Atlanta, GA – Special Prosecutor Pete Skandalakis announced Tuesday that the 2020 police shooting of Rayshard Brooks was justified, and all charges against the involved officers would be dropped.
Brooks was fatally shot in a Wendy’s parking lot in June 2020 after fighting officers during an arrest for DUI.
Brooks had concussed one of the officers and stolen an officer’s Taser before he was fatally shot.
The shooting sparked mass protests, rioting, the burning down of the Wendy’s, and an autonomous zone being established in the area.
Now-former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard rushed to charge the officers five days after the shooting, three months before the investigation into the shooting was compelted.
The details from the investigation showed that the details Howard used to indict the officers “were not accurate, omitted exculpatory facts, and could have impacted this Court’s decision to impose restrictive conditions of bond,” according to an attorney for one of the officers.
After Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis defeated Howard in an election, she requested to recuse her office from the case, stating that Howard’s mishandling and politicizing of the case made it impossible for her office to try the case, according to WXIA.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr then appointed Skandalakis to handle the prosecution.
On Tuesday, Skandalakis announced that the officers “acted within the scope of their duties,” “committed no crimes,” and “acted as reasonable officers.”
Officer Garrett Rolfe had been charged with 11 felonies, including felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, multiple counts of aggravated assault (including against people sitting in other vehicles struck by gunfire), criminal damage, and seven violations of his oath of office.
Officer Devin Brosnan had been charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The initial incident started when police received a call at around 10:33 p.m. on June 12 for a man asleep in his car blocking the Wendy’s drive-thru off University Ave near I-75/85, according to WXIA.
Officers arrived and contacted the suspect, later identified as the 27-year old Brooks, and administered field sobriety tests.
Bodycam video showed that Brooks was passed out in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, blocking the Wendy’s drive-thru line, when police arrived.
The bodycam depicts Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan as having no desire to deal with Brooks.
Officer Brosnan initially told Brooks to park in a parking spot if he wanted to sleep, but the incident turned into a DUI investigation after Officer Brosnan smelled the odor of liquor.
“I don’t want to deal with this dude right now,” Officer Brosnan said to himself before starting the DUI investigation, according to bodycam video.
Brooks admitted to drinking and slurred his words as he spoke, the video showed.
Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived on scene and administered field sobriety tests.
At the conclusion of field sobriety tests, Brooks consented to a preliminary breath test which showed a reading of .108% BAC, which is above the legal limit.
Officers advised Brooks that he was under arrest and attempted to take him into custody and that’s when he started fighting.
Brooks was successfully able to fight off the two officers while disarming one officer of his Taser.
Once Brooks was able to break free of the officers, he took off running with the Taser in his hand.
Officer Rolfe chased close behind, attempting to Tase Brooks.
Both officers then chased Brooks out of view of the cell phone camera when gunshots rang out.
Surveillance video shows that Brooks turned over his shoulder and fired the Taser at Officer Rolfe.
That’s when Officer Rolfe shot Brooks with his service weapon.
Brooks was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he died after surgery, according to WXIA.
“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do, and what you should do,” then-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the next day.
“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force, and have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” the mayor continued.
Officer Brosnan was placed on desk duty pending the investigation, the Associated Press reported.
“What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta, is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect, and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect,” Mayor Bottoms said.
The mayor then announced that because the-Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields wanted Atlanta to be a model of reform, Chief Shields resigned from her position.
Despite the fact that the bodycam video clearly showed Brooks firing the Taser at officers before he was shot, the then-Fulton County DA opined that the drunk driver was no threat to police.
“(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,” DA Paul Howard told CNN. “It just seems like this is not the kind of conversation and incident that should have led to someone’s death.”
At least eight Atlanta police officers resigned in disgust after Officer Rolfe was fired.
The Atlanta Civil Service board reinstated Officer Rolfe in May 2021 after ruling that the city denied Officer Rolfe his right to due process.
Both Officers Rolfe and Brosnan remain employed by Atlanta PD.