Tomorrow, ga. , A specially appointed prosecutor announced Tuesday that he would not pursue charges against two Atlanta white police officers who clashed with Rayshard Brooks during the 2020 encounter with the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old black man. was over.
Pete Scandalakis, executive director of the Georgia Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, said he believes Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot and killed Brooks in June 2020, did the right thing. He also said that the second officer involved in the encounter, Devin Brosnan, would not be charged.
“Given the rapidly changing circumstances, was it objectively justified that he used lethal force and we conclude,” Scandalakis said.
Skandlakis was appointed to handle the case last year after a judge allowed Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to separate herself and her office. Willis had cited concerns about the actions of his predecessor, who announced the murder charge against Rolfe less than a week after the shooting.
Police respond to complaints from a man sleeping in a car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s restaurant on June 12, 2020. Police body camera video shows the two officers having a quiet conversation with Brooks for about 40 minutes.
Then, when officers told Brooks that he had too much to drink for driving and tried to arrest him, Brooks protested in a fight caught on dash camera video. Brooks grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and fled, firing at Rolfe. Rolfe fired his gun, and an autopsy found that Brooks had been shot twice in the back.
Lawyers for both officers have said their actions were justified and both were released on bond.
The shooting took place in the backdrop of increased tension and protests across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis less than three weeks ago.
The sometimes violent protests over Floyd’s death had largely subsided in Atlanta, but the murder of Brooks started a new round of demonstrations against police brutality. Police Chief Erica Shields resigned less than 24 hours after Brooks’ death. Protesters set fire to Wendy’s restaurant, which was later demolished.
Scandalakis said he believed the context had an impact on how events unfolded and acknowledged that encounters between police and the African American community are sometimes “very volatile,” but added that That he does not believe that race played a role in this instance.
“This is not one of those cases,” he said. “This is a case in which the officers were prepared to give Mr. Brooks every benefit of the doubt and, you know, unfortunately, by his actions, that’s what happened.”
Scandalakis and former Gwynette County District Attorney Danny Porter, who was a co-counsel in the case, spent about an hour during the news conference walking through the details of the encounter between Brooks and the two officers. Porter used images taken from the video to show what happened once things turned violent.
Scandalakis called it “a peaceful encounter that suddenly became a violent encounter,” adding that as Brooks took the Taser from Brosnan, he assumed an aggressive position.
Porter said that Brooks had already overpowered the two officers and violently brought them to the ground, and that Rolfe acted in accordance with Georgia law and Atlanta Police Department policy, given the facts of the situation.
Rolfe was fired the day after the shooting, but the Atlanta Civil Service Board overturned his dismissal in May 2021. The board found that the city failed to follow its procedures for disciplinary action.
Five days after Brooks was murdered, then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard held a dramatic news conference to announce the warrants against Rolfe and Brosnan had been drawn. Rolfe’s charges included felony assault, aggravated assault and breach of his oath. Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and breach of his oath.
Scandalakis said on Tuesday that it would file the paperwork to have those warrants rejected.
Two months after the allegations were announced, Howard lost the Democratic primary in his bid for re-election. Just weeks after taking office in January 2021, his successor, Fannie Willis, asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to reassign the case.
Willis, who has since drawn national attention for his ongoing investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 result. Election in Georgia, cited concerns about Howard’s actions.
Rolfe’s attorney, Noah Pines, also filed a motion to disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney’s office from the case.
Carr initially refused to reassign the case, but in July 2021 Fulton County Superior Court Chief Justice Christopher Brasher found there was a conflict of interest and requested Willis to separate his office in July 2021. Scandalakis to handle it.