(Reuters) – A Georgia county prosecutor on Wednesday announced that a fired Atlanta police officer has been charged with felony murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant last week.
Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe, who was fired after the shooting death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, poses in an undated photograph released in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 14, 2020. Atlanta Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
The death of the 27-year-old Brooks – another in a long line of African-Americans killed by police – further heightened racial concerns in the United States at a time of national soul-searching over racism and police brutality.
Garrett Rolfe, the white officer who shot Brooks on June 12 and was fired the next day after surveillance video showed his actions, faces charges including felony murder and assault with a deadly weapon, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told a news conference in Atlanta. Rolfe faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
Devin Brosnan, another white officer who was on the scene, will cooperate with prosecutors, Howard added. Brosnan has been placed on administrative leave.
Video of the incident, which escalated from a call about a man who appeared intoxicated in his car at the Wendy’s restaurant drive-though lane into a fatal shooting, appeared to show Brooks taking one of the officer’s Taser devices and turning and pointing it at Rolfe before being shot.
The killing of Brooks came amid ongoing protests in U.S. cities prompted by the May 25 death of an African-American man named George Floyd after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while detaining him. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder. Three other Minneapolis police officers were charged with aiding and abetting.
An autopsy conducted on Sunday showed that Brooks was shot twice in the back and died from blood loss and organ injuries. The local medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide.
Brooks was reported asleep in a car in the Wendy’s drive-through lane, blocking traffic. A restaurant employee called the 911 emergency telephone line, complaining about a man who would not move the vehicle and appeared intoxicated.
After interacting with Rolfe and Brosnan, Brooks tussled with the officers and ran off with one of their Taser devices.
The killing sparked protests in Atlanta. The Wendy’s restaurant was burned down in the unrest.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms in the aftermath of the killing announced reforms within the police department, including orders requiring officers to de-escalate situations and directing them to intervene if they see a colleague using excessive force. Atlanta’s police chief, Erika Shields, resigned following the shooting.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Will Dunham