Atlanta officer fired over fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks reinstated by board

ATLANTA, GA – Garrett Rolfe, the fired Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks last summer, has been reinstated by the Atlanta Civil Service Board.

The board issued its decision this morning stating:

“Due to the City’s failure to comply with several provisions of the Code and the information received during witnesses’ testimony, the Board concludes the appellant was not afforded his right to due process. Therefore, the Board GRANTS the Appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD.”

Rolfe was fired on June 13, the day after Brooks was fatally wounded outside a Wendy’s restaurant.

The incident, captured on surveillance and body camera video, began when officers arrived at the restaurant to find Brooks asleep in his vehicle.

After a brief discussion with Brooks, officers had him perform a field sobriety test, which he failed. Brooks asked officers to allow him to lock his car and walk home, but police informed him he was being arrested.

Brooks began struggling with officers and grabbed an officer’s stun gun. As Brooks ran from officers, he fired the stun gun in the direction of Officer Rolfe, who shot Brooks twice, striking him in the back. Brooks later died.

Rolfe has been charged with felony murder for the shooting and is awaiting trial.

Despite the pending trial, Rolfe appealed his firing with the Atlanta’s Civil Service Board. His attorney, Lance LoRusso, argued before the board two weeks ago that his client’s dismissal occurred “without proper investigation” by the city.

LoRusso also argued that Rolfe did not receive a proper 10-day notice to prepare for a disciplinary hearing before being terminated.

The hearing revealed that then-Atlanta police chief Erika Shields did not sign Rolfe’s dismissal form. She stepped down as chief that same day, eventually resigning. Assistant Chief Todd Coyt signed the dismissal form in Shields’ place.

During an “employee response hearing” held by the city following the shooting, Coyt told the board he believed Rolfe and the other officer charged in the case, Devin Brosnan, “acted accordingly and… were trying to show compassion and did everything they could to calm the situation down.”

However, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters at the time that the circumstances of Brooks’ death required immediate action:

“It is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste.”

LoRusso argued to the board that the process of the employee response hearing did not provide Rolfe time to offer a defense prior to being terminated.

Shockingly, it was also revealed during testimony by Atlanta Police Department Sgt. William Dean, an internal affairs investigator, that Rolfe’s hearing was scheduled to accommodate a 5 p.m. press conference by the mayor announcing Rolfe’s termination.

Rolfe testified that he did not find out about his employee response hearing until 3:45 p.m. and that he was more than an hour outside the city at the time and said he feared for his safety, as video of Brooks’ shooting had been widely seen.

 

In ruling that Rolfe be re-instated, the board noted the lack of notice as a primary finding:

“In this case, the effective date of the discipline was June 14, 2020, and the (notice of proposed adverse action) and the (notice of final adverse action) were issued to the Appellant’s Union Representative at virtually the same time on June 13, 2020. As such, the City’s actions were not compliant with the ten days prior notice period as required by the Code.”

LoRusso said the ruling does not mean Rolfe will be back on the streets as an Atlanta police officer any time soon. Rolfe will not be permitted to return to work because his bond on the murder charge prevents him from possessing a firearm or from being around other officers:

“He’d essentially be on administrative leave pending the outcome of the charges against them.”

The Atlanta Police Department has not issued a statement regarding the ruling as of the writing of this article.

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LET Unity
Georgia DA requests two high-profile cases – including shooting of Rayshard Brooks – be assigned a new prosecutor

January 29, 2021

 

FULTON COUNTY, GA – Back in August of 2020, then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard was voted out of his position and District Attorney Fani T. Willis was voted in.

In late January of 2021, the new District Attorney petitioned the state’s attorney general in an effort to seek alternative prosecutors for two high-profile cases that cropped up in 2020, citing her predecessor’s mishandling of the cases.

One of the cases in question pertains to the prosecution of what’s been coined as the “Atlanta 6”, the officers charged in the incident that involved two college students getting tased and pulled out of their cars in the midst of a George Floyd protest ongoing in Atlanta over the summer of 2020.

And then of course, the other high-profile case being that of the charging of former Atlanta Police officer Garrett Rolfe, who has been charged with felony murder in the death of Rayshard Brooks which transpired in June of 2020.

In DA Willis’ is letter to State Attorney General Christopher Carr, the newly elected DA pointed to a television ad campaign that her predecessor used in an effort to achieve reelection.

Apparently, the campaign advertisement pieced together by former DA Paul Howard included footage from the Rayshard Brooks case:

“I believe his conduct, including using video evidence in campaign television advertisements, may have violated Georgia Bar Rule 3.8(g).”

Another aspect mentioned within the letter by DA Willis noted that Howard had issued grand jury subpoenas despite there being no such panel at the time due to the pandemic. Based upon the aforementioned, DA Willis believes these cases should be transferred out of her office:

“I believe both matters create sufficient question of the appropriateness of this office continuing to handle the investigation and possible prosecution of these cases that the public interest is served by disqualifying this office and referring the matter to specially appointed prosecutor.”

Now it’s unclear if it was referenced in the letter sent to the state attorney general’s office, but former Fulton County DA Howard engaged in numerous things that could bring into question whether he was handling these high-profile cases appropriately.

Back on June 17th in 2020, at the same press conference where former DA Howard announced felony charges against former officer Garrett Rolfe, he also stated that he believes “prosecutors should be allowed to indict cases directly without a grand jury when they involve police shootings.”

If that weren’t questionable enough, also in June of 2020, former DA Howard attended the funeral of Rayshard Brooks – despite his office being tasked with prosecuting the man accused of murdering him.

And when Garrett Rolfe managed to make bail with the help of people donating to a legal fund for the accused, former DA Howard attempted to have the identities outed of those who donated to Garrett Rolfe’s legal fund.

Now while none of this occurred under the watch of the new District Attorney in Fulton County, these actions still took place while these cases were being handled by the Fulton County DA’s office.

Overall, it was a rather ethical request to be made by DA Willis.

State Attorney General Carr’s Office did confirm that they had received the request from the newly elected DA on January 28th, but stated that there’s some additional information needed to grant said request according to a spokesperson for the office:

“We are awaiting additional information necessary to initiate the process for appointing a substitute prosecutor.”

Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis, who is representing one of the victims from the “Atlanta 6” case is reportedly unhappy that the case is being reassigned – namely due to this effort lengthening the process for the case to work its way through the courts:

“They have been patient with the process and to now have to wait even longer is incredibly disheartening and frustrating. This is essentially a restart of a case that we wanted ready for trial when the courts reopen.”

Based upon the statement delivered from the state attorney general’s office on the matter, it sounds as though that a new prosecutor will be appointed for these cases. 

 

 

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The post Atlanta officer fired over fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks reinstated by board appeared first on Law Enforcement Today.

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Author: Scott A. Davis


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