Rayshard Brooks’ 8-year-old daughter had her birthday dress on Saturday morning waiting for her dad to come pick her up and take her skating to celebrate her birthday, family attorneys say.
Her dad never came home. He was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer at a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta Friday night. Since then, the officer who shot Brooks was terminated and a second officer was placed on administrative duty. The Atlanta police chief stepped down from her position.
Brooks, 27, has three daughters who are 1, 2 and 8 years old, according to the attorneys. He also has a 13-year-old stepson, they said.
His oldest daughter was having her birthday party Saturday, Brooks’ family attorney Justin Miller said in a news conference Saturday [06-13-20].
‘They had a birthday party for her … with cupcakes,’ Miller said. ‘While we were sitting there talking to her mom about why her dad’s not coming home.’
This is, of course, CNN. What more than nominating a serial felon for father of the year can one expect from them? I can testify from long experience that felons are not, by definition and action, model fathers. Fortunately, Georgia Representative Doug Collins (R) is more grounded in reality, as The Gainesville Times reports:
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, has requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s handling of the Rayshard Brooks case.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney William Barr sent Wednesday, July 8, Collins said Howard had allowed political pressure to influence him.
‘Not only should our justice system pursue actual, tangible justice, it should also pursue the appearance of justice,’ Collins wrote. ‘Georgians must have confidence that both the process and the outcome of this case is devoid of any and all political influence. Unfortunately, Georgians have rightfully lost that confidence in DA Howard.’ [skip]
Last month, Collins also asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to appoint an independent district attorney in the case.
Finally, gentle readers, I’ve had the opportunity to analyze DA Paul Howard’s political rally announcing charges against APD officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. The entire transcript is available here, and I recommend you take the link and read the whole thing. I’ll not respond to everything Howard said, but will point out the glaringly obvious falsehoods, many of which are going to haunt Howard at trial. This is not a matter of reasonably differing interpretations of a single event, but a grotesquely politically motivated persecution that is already negatively affecting Atlanta.
Before we started today, I wanted to acknowledge, Mrs. Miller, who is the husband of Rayshard Brooks. She is here today with our attorney and after we make our presentation, she is going to make some remarks or Mr. Stewart. We also have with us today, three witnesses from West Memphis, Tennessee, and they are here with their lawyer, Sean Williams. We are also going to ask Mr. Williams to address you as well.
Prosecutors do not bring in the family in cases like this, and particularly not the family’s attorney. They have a direct financial interest in the outcome of the criminal trial. Giving them a platform to support Howard’s nonexistant case should get him disbarred. More on the “three witnesses” later.
[skip] So the question is ask, why were we able to charge this case now? So I want to explain that we have already had an opportunity to speak with three of the witnesses in this case and those are the three witnesses who were from West Memphis, Tennessee. We have had an opportunity to conduct the interviews with seven other witnesses, other than the three witnesses from Tennessee. We’ve also had an opportunity to view…
So we have had an opportunity to review eight videotapes, two Atlanta body cam tapes, two Atlanta police department dash cam tapes. We have also had an opportunity to review a Wendy’s surveillance tape. We have also viewed three citizens cell phone videos. With many of the videos we have the opportunity to enhance the videos so that we could get a better look.
The other thing that we have had an opportunity to do is to view some of the physical evidence. The Chevrolet trailblazer was a vehicle that was in the line at a Wendy’s on the night of this incident and it received a shot from officer Ralph’s gun. We’ve had an opportunity along with the GBI now to view that trailblazer. My office has had an opportunity to inspect the crime scene. We have conducted a canvass of the area. We started our investigation at about 1:15 AM on Saturday morning, and we have been working on this case around the clock since that time.
Go to the next slide. We have spent some time examining the taser evidence in this case, we’ve actually examined and possess the two tasers that we used. We have also had an opportunity to examine the taser logs that are prepared as the tasers are use. We have also consulted with a taser expert from the company that manufacturers the tasers. We received a preliminary medical autopsy. We’ve received the preliminary ballistics report and in reaching our conclusions today, we have worked with both the Georgia Bureau of investigation, as well as the Atlanta police department.
As I’ve previously noted, Howard’s insinuation he was coordinating with the GBI is false. They were blindsided by his political rally and have made it clear they’ve come to no conclusion because the investigation is not nearly complete. Howard is trying to fool a public uninformed about police procedure he has conducted a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation and has an airtight case. He lied. Also, as I noted in Update 4, the APD detective assigned the case, who has not finished his investigation, does not agree at all with Howard.
So in reaching our decision [in 5 days], there were some considerations that we considered important. One of the things that we noted from our evaluation was that Mr. Brooks on the night of this incident was calm. He was cordial and really displayed a cooperative nature. Secondly, even though Mr. Brooks was slightly impaired, his demeanor during this incident was almost jovial.
Yes. Until he violently resisted arrest, brutally beat the officers, stole a Taser, tried to shoot Rolfe in the face with it, and tried to escape, committing multiple felonies in the process, on top of the probation violation that motivated him. It’s rather like a “mostly peaceful protest” that ends with broken bodies, destroyed property and buildings burned to the ground.
The fourth thing we noted is that Mr. Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence and this is a requirement of the Atlanta police department. When one is charged with DUI, the Atlanta police department’s own procedures require that that person is informed immediately that they are under arrest. And then he was grabbed from the rear by officer Rolfe, who made an attempt to physically restrain him after the 41 minute and 17 second discussion.
This is a minor procedural matter, certainly nothing that would allow Brooks to get off on a technicality had he lived. It is absolutely nothing any competent prosecutor would think a factor in charging. As I previously noted, it’s always smart to say “you’re under arrest,” but it is not legally required, nor does failing to say it invalidate an otherwise lawful arrest. Brooks knew he was under arrest, which is why he tried to escape.
Note Howard’s characterization of Rolfe’s attempt to handcuff Brooks. He’s trying to make it appear Rolfe and Brosnan, conducting a lawful arrest, were doing something wrong.
We concluded in considered it as one of our important considerations that Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat.
Not until, in the space of seconds, he committed multiple violent felonies. This is nearly unbelievable. That a prosecutor would take the side of a violent felon resisting arrest to avoid the revocation of his probation speaks very poorly of Howard, and certainly, of the relationship of his office with local law enforcement agencies.
At the very beginning, he was peacefully sleeping in his car after he was awakened by the officer, he was cooperative and he was directed to move his car to another location.
He was “peacefully sleeping in his car” because he was passed out drunk. Note how Howard tries to impute negative motives to the officers, who awakened a “peacefully sleeping” Brooks, who just happened to be blocking a Wendy’s drive through lane. Howard, throughout, sounds like the sleaziest of defense lawyers, not a prosecutor. Howard also made sure to say the officers patted Brooks down and found no weapon. The “unarmed black man” meme figures heavily here, though legally, it’s meaningless, because when Brooks was shot, he was carrying a stolen deadly weapon, the nature of which is something else about which Howard has lied.
Now, this is another important consideration that we discovered as we evaluated this case. Once Mr. Brooks was shot there isn’t Atlanta policy that requires that the officers have to provide timely medical attention to Mr. Brooks or to anyone who is injured. But after Mr. Brooks was shot for some period of two minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied to Mr. Brooks. But when we examine the video tape and in our discussions with witnesses, what we discovered is during the two minutes and 12 seconds, that officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks, while he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life. Secondly, from the video tape, we were able to see that the other officer, officer Brosnan actually stood on Mr. Brooks’ shoulders while he was there struggling for his life.
If there were actually videotape of any of this, we can be certain it would still be played daily on national media. According to the officer’s lawyers, they did, in fact, do CPR, and they did, in fact, call for medical help, which promptly arrived. Police officers have basic first aid training, but no ability to deal with gunshot wounds. That they did not try surgery on the spot is unremarkable. Officers are told, repeatedly, never to try medical procedures beyond their very limited training. It’s a sure way to be sued.
We were able to conclude that based on the way that these officers conducted themselves while Mr. Brooks was lying there, that the demeanor of the officers immediately after the shooting did not reflect any fear or danger of Mr. Brooks. But their actions really reflected other kinds of emotions. So as we are drawing our legal conclusion in this case, we were led by the two foundational cases in this matter one being Tennessee versus Garner. And what that case point side is when an officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect that the officer may not use deadly force to prevent escape, unless the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses an immediate threat of death or of serious physical injury to that officer. The next foundational case that we used in our analysis is Graham versus Connor, which says that this test is based upon that of a reasonable officer on the scene and not the individual officer, but a reasonable officer on the scene. We’ve concluded at the time Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical…
The “other kinds of emotions” about which Howard speaks is an attempt to inject racism into the situation. There is no evidence at all that were Brooks white, and acted as he did, the outcome would have been any different. Nor is there any evidence the officers picked on Brooks because of his race. They were responding to a call of a passed out drunk driver. They didn’t know who it was, or their race, until they arrived and found him “peacefully sleeping.” The evidence does, however, suggest that had Brooks simply done as the officers reasonably and lawfully directed, he would be unharmed and alive today.
Howard is also deceptively misinterpreting the law. Here’s the primary holding of Tennessee v. Garner (1985—US Supreme Court):
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a police officer may use deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect only if the officer has a good-faith belief that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.
Howard is ignoring the evidence Rolfe had a reasonable belief he was being fired on. His return fire was in immediate response to what he likely believed was an attempt to kill him by a man who had already committed multiple felonies, including beating him and Off. Brosnan and stealing a Taser.
Howard’s invocation of Graham v. Connor (1989-US Supreme Court) is likewise deceptive. Howard is suggesting that Rolfe could not be simultaneously reasonable and an individual, a standard that has nothing whatever to do with Graham v. Connor:
The Fourth Amendment ‘reasonableness’ inquiry is whether the officers’ actions are ‘objectively reasonable’ in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.
Howard is implying Rolfe could not be ever be objectively reasonable given the facts and circumstances of the encounter, while implying he was not. The actual decision is in Rolfe’s favor, not Howard’s.
What this photograph illustrates is the point that Officer Rolfe, at this point, was firing a taser. And this was Mr. Brooks, who was firing a taser as well. But I don’t know if you can see it clearly. The prongs from the taser were actually fired above Officer Rolfe here.
This is really going to blow up in Howard’s face at trial. He just admitted Brooks tried to shoot Rolfe in the face, but missed—something that could easily cause serious bodily injury or death. Howard spends some time bragging about how quickly the mayor and leadership of the APD fired Rolfe, affording him no due process whatever. A prosecutor’s charge is to always seek justice, which is not at all what Howard is doing.
Now we have had something quite remarkable that happened in this case, and it involves the testimony of the other officer Devin Brosnan because Officer Brosnan has now become a state’s witness. He has decided to testify on behalf of the state in this case. What he has said to us that is within a matter of days, he plans to make a statement regarding the culpability of Officer Rolfe, but he indicated that he is not psychologically willing to give that statement today.
Brosnan’s attorney has called this a lie. Howard then goes into a round of charge stacking the likes of which I’ve never seen. It’s amazing he didn’t charge Rolfe with jaywalking as well. Every charge is based on the theory the officers had no legal standing to so much as look at Brooks that night, which is plainly insane. He does little better regarding Off. Brosnan:
These are the charges for Officer Brosnan, and there are a total of three charges. The first charge is for aggravated assault. And this is for standing or stepping on Mr. Brooks’s shoulder. [skip]
We’ve also charged him with additionally, two violations of oath. One is far the standing on the shoulder that is an unauthorized weapon list control technique, which the city of Atlanta prohibits. And the second violation of oath was for their failure to render to timely medical aid to Mr. Brooks.
Translation: We don’t have anything on Brosnan, so we’re going to make stuff up. Howard then let Shawn Williams, attorney for the “three Tennessee witnesses” spout emotional social justice propaganda and prejudice any potential jury pool. Williams was also careful to keep to the official narrative:
All of those things as well as the fact that Mr. Brooks was not a threat to any officer that night should have gone into play, but it didn’t.
Howard turned the rally over to Brooks’ wife’s lawyer, Chris Stewart, who also kept to the official narrative, and previewed his lawsuit, which the city will surely settle for many millions:
Good evening. I’m Chris Stewart and my law partner, Justin Miller. Tamika is not in a position to speak right now. She wasn’t aware of all of this information, just like we weren’t aware, just like I don’t believe the nation was aware of all of this, that the shot happened after the deployment of the taser, where he started running again, that you would kick another human being after you just put two bullets in his back. But even in dark times like this, you have to try and see the light. And the positivity of this situation is the courageousness of Officer Brosnan to step forward and say, “What happened was wrong.” It is officers like that who change policing.
Except that’s not at all what Brosnan is doing. This was Howard’s response to a media question about his haste in charging the officers:
Well we didn’t need it, because as we pointed out, the evidence was available. We could move forward without getting the reports from the GBI. And we’ve been working with the GBI. In fact today we worked together with the automobile that we talked about. So it was different circumstance. Because once you get the video tapes, and we’ve had eight of them, I believe, in this case, it places the case on a different level of being investigated.
Sure, the level where actually waiting until all the evidence is collected and evaluated is unnecessary because social justice/white cops/black man.
Again, gentle readers, take the link to the entire transcript. It’s extraordinary. If Howard is not defeated in the upcoming election, if he’s not indicted for financial impropriety, and if this hot mess gets to trial, it’s going to blow up in Howard’s face. As with the Trayvon Martin case, Howard is assuming the role of a corrupt defense lawyer who will argue emotion and social justice. He’s going to face surprise after surprise in court, and the officers are not going to be convicted.
If Howard imagines the mob will simply say: “well, he really tried, and he is Black, so we should give him a break and all sing Kumbaya; everything’s cool, so let’s all go home and chill,” he’s even less intelligent than his actions and statements would indicate.