Two police officers who shot and killed a man in a confrontation outside an Atlanta Wendy’s in 2020 will not face charges in his death, a special prosecutor announced on Tuesday.
Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia Executive Director Pete Skandalakis said at a news conference on Tuesday that the officers “acted within accordance with Georgia law” when they shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, 27, who had scuffled with them and taken one of their Tasers, WSB reported.
“It’s my conclusion that the use of deadly force was reasonable,” Skandalakis said.
Brooks’s death on June 12, 2020, sparked days of protests in Atlanta, adding onto protests already under way in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis just three weeks earlier, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Police said they were called to the fast food restaurant because Brooks had fallen asleep in the fast food restaurant’s drive-thru line. Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan got Brooks to pull into a parking space and talked with him for 90 minutes before Brooks and the officers suddenly began to scuffle.
Body camera footage shows the struggle. At one point, Brooks grabbed an officers Taser and ran, firing the Taser at the officers. The officers opened fire, striking Brooks in the back and killing him.
Rolfe was charged with 11 crimes, including murder and aggravated assault, and Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and violation of oath of office. Rolfe was also fired, but he was reinstated when the Atlanta Civil Service Board ruled that the police department had not followed its own procedures.
Skandalakis told reporters that the officers didn’t act with criminal intent and that the charges against them would be dismissed. He also dismissed claims that Brooks’s killing was racially motivated, although he said he believes the strong response to the shooting was sparked by the nationwide protests over Floyd’s death.
“This is not a case in which an officer was kneeling on a prone suspect for nine minutes, nor was it like the Ahmaud Arbery case, where armed citizens were chasing a young man through a neighborhood,” Skandalakis said.
Brooks’s family held a news conference later on Tuesday in which they ripped the special prosecutor’s decision and said the shooting was at least partially based on race.
“You can’t catch a drunk guy on drugs running down Metropolitan Avenue? You have to shoot him in the back?” their attorney said. “He should have been in jail. He should not be dead.”
The officers should have let him run and found him later, the attorney said.
Atlanta Police released a statement saying that both officers are still employed by the department on administrative duty. They will both undergo training and recertification before they’re allowed to patrol again.
Mayor Andre Dickens also released a statement saying his “heart continues to ache for the family of Rayshard Brooks.”
“I respect the independent role that the special prosecutor played in this case,” he said. ” … Over the last two years, our country has been engaged in important discussion about policing in America. We must maintain our commitment to the work of creating safe communities through collaboration between police and the people they serve.”
Then Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard initially filed the charges against Rolfe and Branson, but he lost his bid for reelection two months later and was replaced by Fani Willis. Willis recused herself for a conflict of interest, and Georgia’s attorney general appointed Skandalakis to investigate the case.
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[Featured image: FILE – Screen grab from body camera footage of the shooting of Rayshard Brooks shows Brooks, right, and Officer Garrett Rolfe. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)]