The Atlanta police officer who shot dead Rayshard Brooks on Friday night could face murder charges, the district attorney has said, after it emerged that on pulling the trigger Garrett Rolfe told his partner: ‘I got him.’
Brooks, 27, died in the car park of a Wendy’s, having failed a sobriety test and wrestled with officers, stealing a taser and running away.
Autopsy results released on Sunday night lists Brooks’ cause of death as gunshot wounds to the back. The manner of death is listed as homicide.
Brooks was shot twice and died from organ damage and blood loss.
Paul Howard, the district attorney, said he expects to announce charges against Garrett Rolfe on Wednesday following the Friday night killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta
Paul Howard, district attorney for Fulton County in Georgia, where the shooting happened, said Rolfe’s response to the killing would make it hard to argue self-defense.
‘There’s one good thing about video,’ said Howard, referring to surveillance camera footage obtained by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).
‘Because in the video we actually get a chance to hear the officer’s first statement after the shooting took place.
‘And what the officer said is not that his life was saved.
‘What his statement was, he said: “I got him”.’
Rayshard Brooks, 27, a married father of four, was handcuffed after failing a sobriety test at a Wendy’s. He wrestled with the police, grabbed a Taser, pointed it at Rolfe and was shot dead
Garrett Rolfe, 27, joined the Atlanta police department in 2013. He has been fired for Friday
Howard said that his office is ‘still experiencing some difficulty’ getting all of the body-camera and dashcam footage from Atlanta police.
Rolfe’s bodycam was knocked off in the scuffle with Brooks, but shows the beginning of their interaction, which lasted for around 30 minutes and was cordial.
Brooks is even seen smiling, relaxed, as he engages with Rolfe and his partner, Devin Brosnan.
The two officers had been called after Brooks was reported to be sleeping in his car in the drive-through lane of a Wendy’s.
Brooks failed a sobriety test, and as the two men were placing him in handcuffs he resisted for around 30 seconds and the three scuffled on the floor.
Police were called to the Wendy’s on Friday night after Brooks was asleep at the wheel
Brooks’s car was blocking the drive-through lane. He told officers he did not have a weapon
For 30 minutes Brooks spoke cordially with the two officers in the parking lot
Rolfe is seen administering a sobriety test. A breathalyzer showed Brooks to be over the limit
‘Stop fighting! Stop fighting!’ an officer says, according to audio from the body camera.
During the struggle, Brooks grabs an officer’s Taser, escapes their grasp and starts running away from the two, the videos show.
“He’s got my f****** Taser,” an officer says, according to the body camera footage.
Brooks runs away, with Rolfe, also 27, following, before he turns and points the Taser at the officer, who opens fire with his gun.
‘(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,’ Howard
‘If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save that officer’s life or prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law.’
Howard said there were three charges which were ‘relevant’ in the case, and could be filed.
‘One would be the murder charge in the state of Georgia,’ he said.
‘That charge is a charge that is directly related to an intent to kill.
‘The second charge is felony murder. And that is a charge that involves a death that comes as a result of the commission of an underlying felony, and in this case, that underlying felony would be aggravated assault.’
He said his office was unlikely to pursue the third charge, aggravated assault.
‘I believe in this instance, what we have to choose between — if there’s a choice to be made — is between murder and felony murder.’
Paul Howard, the district attorney, has said Atlanta police have not yet turned over footage
Rolfe had been recently trained in de-escalation tactics, according to his department record.
In addition to the de-escalation training, he took coursework in April in cultural awareness. This past January, he passed a course entitled ‘Use of Deadly Force.’
Rolfe has also had multiple courses in tactical team operations and firearms training.
Brooks was a married father of four children – three girls of his own, aged eight, two and one, and a 13-year-old stepson.
His attorney, L. Chris Stewart, said that on Friday, shortly before his death, Brooks was celebrating his eldest daughter’s eighth birthday with her at an arcade.
Brooks’s shooting is the latest caught-on-video death of a black man by police in recent months.
It has sparked new outrage among protesters already inflamed by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, and the February killing of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery by three white men now charged with murder in Brunswick, Georgia.
The Wendys where Brooks was killed was burnt down Saturday night amid protest at his death
The burnt-out restaurant is seen on Sunday morning after protests turned violent
An artist pays tribute to Brooks, a 27-year-old married father of four gunned down on Friday
The Wendy’s where Brooks was killed was burnt down on Saturday night.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating Brooks’ shooting death, and Howard said his office will make a decision on whether to file criminal charges around Wednesday.
Rolfe, who had been hired in 2013, was fired on Saturday and the second officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty.
Erika Shields, the Atlanta police chief, resigned on Saturday.