Rayshard Brooks, a Black man whose death occurred weeks after the shooting death of George Floyd in 2020, sparked racial justice demonstrations, was fatally shot by two Atlanta police officers. A special prosecutor announced Tuesday that he will not pursue criminal charges against the two officers.
In contrast to what then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard discovered following Brooks’ passing, which swiftly resulted in charges being brought against the officers, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, Pete Skandalakis, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, made his decision. Howard was subsequently elected out of office, but his successor was sent the case transferred to the Georgia attorney general’s office in early 2021, alleging conflicts of interest.
The cops “committed no crimes,” according to Skandalakis, and the use of lethal force was “appropriate.”
Skandalakis argued that the circumstances of this case were distinct from those surrounding the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis and the fatal shooting of another Black man in Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery, and he urged people to view the events surrounding the police encounter with Brooks with objectivity. The two implicated officers are both Caucasian.
“Black lives are important. I’ve devoted my entire professional life to assisting Black crime victims, “Speaking during a press conference, Skandalakis. I will ask them to consider the circumstances of the case, but I understand that interactions between police and the African American community may occasionally be very tense.
Security and bodycam footage from the June 12, 2020 shooting of Brooks at a Wendy’s parking lot were obtained. A report that a man had passed out in his car in the drive-through prompted police to arrive. Two police officers spoke calmly with Brooks, 27, for approximately 40 minutes, according to bodycam video. But when they attempted to arrest Brooks and gave a field sobriety test, a fight broke out.
In the footage, Brooks was shown holding a stun gun that he had taken from an officer while fleeing. Investigators claim that before an officer named Rolfe fired at him, injuring him in the back, he looked to turn around and point the firearm.
In 2020, when Howard made the decision to prosecute Rolfe with murder, he told reporters that Brooks “never presented himself as a threat” and seemed “almost humorous.” He claimed that Brooks, a father of three kids and a stepson who worked in a tortilleria, obeyed every order given by the officers and was never made aware that he was being detained for DUI.
However, the special prosecutor came to the conclusion on Tuesday that Rolfe had a “reasonable belief” that Brooks “was equipped with a dangerous weapon” since Brooks had stolen a police stun gun and used it “while he was still in the battle.”
Daniel Porter, a former Gwinnett County district attorney who is now with the special prosecutor’s office, said Tuesday at the news conference that an officer can also use deadly force when he reasonably feels the suspect poses a threat of immediate physical violence to the officer or others.
At first, Rolfe, a department veteran of six years, was let go and was accused of 11 offenses, including criminal homicide. His due process rights had been violated, according to the Atlanta Civil Service Board, which restored him last year. The second officer, Brosnan, who had served for almost two years, was charged with three offenses, including aggravated assault. He was placed on administrative leave.
The two officers will receive training and recertification, according to a statement released by the Atlanta Police Department on Tuesday.
The agency said, “We have faith in the criminal justice system, and we respect the special prosecutor’s judgment in this instance.
The shooting of Brooks increased public scrutiny of Atlanta police. Less than 24 hours after the incident, the police chief at the time, Erika Shields, resigned.
The special prosecutor’s involvement in the case is respected, according to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who also thinks that continued training for police personnel to defuse tense situations has been a major improvement.
“Our nation has been involved in significant discussions about police in America over the last two years,” he remarked. “We must continue to be dedicated to the task of fostering cooperation between the police and the communities they serve in order to build safe neighborhoods.”