Atlanta, GA is apparently working hard to be as dysfunctional as New York City, Chicago, Seattle and Portland. When last I wrote on this case in The Rayshard Brooks Case, Update 9: The Gang’s All Here in August of 2021, we learned Brooks was a member of the Bloods, one of America’s most vicious, violent gangs. It will not be a surprise, I trust, to learn the media has mostly avoided reporting that interesting fact. They have also not promoted Brooks as a holy social justice martyr, at least not with the fervor of their deification of Saint George Floyd.
The SMM Rayshard Brooks archive is here.
The fate of Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan as been unsettled for two years. Both men remain on administrative leave from the APD (Note: Rolfe may not be currently employed by the APD—accounts are confusing).
The former DA, Paul Howard, who charged both with multiple felonies long before the investigation was complete, lost his reelection bid to current DA Fani Willis, who is not only herself under investigation, but who recused herself from the case, apparently to avoid having to take any political responsibility. It seems no one in Atlanta wanted to do justice, so a special prosecutor, Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, was appointed.
In yet another bizarre turn in this bizarre case, Skandalakis has not yet decided whether to charge the officers, and it appears the Georgia Bureau of Investigation may or may not have completed its investigation! And now we hear from AJC.com:
Two days before the second anniversary of Rayshard Brooks’ death, the two Atlanta police officers charged in the 27-year-old’s shooting filed federal lawsuits alleging they were falsely arrested and their constitutional rights were violated.
Attorney Lance LoRusso filed the lawsuits late Friday on behalf of Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, the officers who attempted to arrest Brooks in the parking lot of an Atlanta Wendy’s. Named as defendants are the city of Atlanta, Fulton County, former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former DA Paul Howard, who brought criminal charges against both men days after the shooting.
Former Fulton County Assistant DA Clint Rucker and Donald Hannah, a former criminal investigator for the DA’s office, are also named in the suits. Former Atlanta police chief Erika Shields is named as a defendant only in Rolfe’s lawsuit.
Brooks, who had been asleep at the wheel in a drive-thru line, punched Brosnan hard enough to cause a concussion and took his Taser when the officers tried to arrest him on a DUI charge. He was fatally shot by Rolfe after aiming the device while running through the parking lot, surveillance video showed.
Actually, Brooks fired the Taser at Rolfe, narrowly missing his head. It was only then that Rolfe fired.
Rolfe was fired one day after the June 12, 2020, shooting. Shields announced at a news conference that afternoon she was stepping aside as chief and later left the department.
Rolfe was reinstated by the city’s Civil Service Board in May 2021 but remains on administrative leave.
His lawsuit says Bottoms made the decision to fire him and claims the termination was conducted in an unnecessarily public manner and that Bottoms violated her oath of office by getting involved.
Brooks’ killing came after weeks of intense demonstrations over George Floyd’s murder. The shooting, captured on video, kicked off another wave of protests across Atlanta that at times turned destructive.
Yes. More “mostly peaceful” protests.
The officers’ lawsuits say they were attacked by Brooks and had the right to use force to prevent him from ‘imminent use of unlawful force against them.’
Both lawsuits maintain the officers’ lives were put in danger after the former mayor identified them publicly, with Brosnan having to leave the state as a precaution. Bottoms also rushed to judgement by declaring the incident a ‘murder’ and insinuating Brosnan and Rolfe were criminals, the lawsuit says.
Howard, attorneys argued, sought to profit politically from the shooting during an election year and went on his own ‘press blitz.’ He also sought criminal charges before the GBI’s investigation was complete.
Need I mention Howard is black? He was a black DA, not a DA who happened to be black.
The complaint alleges Howard, Bottoms and the other defendants worked together in a ‘deliberate, concentrated and malicious effort’ to deny Brosnan and Rolfe their constitutional rights. According to the lawsuits, both officers were denied due process when arrest warrants were obtained through false and misleading statements.
Another inexplicable development:
Two years later, the special prosecutor now handling the case said his team is awaiting reports from hired experts before deciding whether to proceed with the charges.
‘We expect to have those within a few days,’ said Pete Skandalakis… ‘As soon we get those that will enable us to decide a course of action to take on the case.’
The experts’ findings will include the GBI’s case file, witness statements and any video of the shooting. The incident was captured on the officers’ body cameras, bystanders’ cellphones and the restaurant’s video surveillance system.
Why is this inexplicable? Skandalakis has had two years to put this case together. It is not a highly technical case, the number of witnesses are few and known, and there is substantial video, including the officer’s body camera footage. What happened is known and beyond argument. Finishing the investigation and making charging decisions should have taken months at most, not years.
He told the AJC late Friday his team has three options. They can proceed with the case against the officers, drop the charges altogether or present the experts’ findings to a grand jury, either civil or criminal.
Civil? The prosecutor is going to sue Rolfe and Brosnan civilly?
‘My team will choose the best option based on evidence and the law,’ he said, adding the experts’ findings will be vital to their decision.
The longtime prosecutor said he understands emotions are high surrounding the case, especially in today’s climate.
‘I’m cognizant of all that, but our decision has to be based upon the facts and the law,’ Skandalakis said. ‘I just need to be transparent with my decision. I know the community is very interested in this, but my decision will be guided upon the facts and the law.’
This case is clearly political. The facts and law matter little because they are on the side of the officers. If Skandalakis drops charges, Atlanta will burn. If he prosecutes and the officers are acquitted–unlikely–or are not punished more severely than anyone in history, Atlanta will burn. Brooks was driving drunk, and passed out in the drive up lane of a Wendy’s. That restaurant, which had nothing to do with the case other than being where Brooks passed out in his car, was burned to the ground because racism. Rolfe and Brosnan were called to deal with him. As regular readers know, Rolfe and Brosnan treated Brooks entirely professionally, even kindly, and when they tried to arrest him, he beat them both and stole a Taser. He fled with Rolfe in pursuit, turned and fired the Taser at Rolfe, narrowly missing his head.
Howard had, only shortly before, publically claimed a Taser was a deadly weapon. Suddenly, when one stolen from an officer was fired at a white police officer by a black felon, it wasn’t. Howard did politicize the case in a failed attempt to stay in office, and everything went downhill from there. Visit the Brooks archive to review why this is an entirely political prosecution.
The charges against Rolfe and Brosnan should have been dismissed long ago. They did nothing wrong, other than professionally doing their duty. Unfortunately, they are white, Brooks was a black felon and gang member, and it happened in Atlanta. Should they be forced to go to trial, they’ll be wrongfully convicted. It will be impossible for them to get a fair trial in Atlanta.
I’ll have more as it develops.