Fulton Country District Attorney Paul Howard announced felony murder charges Wednesday against Garrett Rolfe, the white police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks last week in a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta.
Rolfe and fellow officer Devin Brosnan had responded to the scene when Brooks was found sleeping in his car in the Wendy’s drive-thru line. Bodycam and surveillance video show the officers calmly communicating with Brooks for about 40 minutes, during which a field sobriety test was administered.
But as the officers attempted to arrest Brooks, he resisted. He grabbed the Taser from one of the officers and began to run. Moments before he was shot, Brooks pointed the stun gun back at the officers.
A Taser is a ‘deadly weapon’
Yet when announcing charges, Howard told reporters that Brooks “never presented himself as a threat” and “never displayed any aggressive behavior.”
Howard’s claims seem at odds with his own argument about Tasers just two weeks ago, when he acknowledged that “a Taser is considered as a deadly weapon under Georgia law.”
That statement was made as Howard announced charges against Atlanta police officers who employed Tasers while making an arrest during the George Floyd protests in the city.
In the immediate aftermath of the Brooks shooting, TheBlaze’s Leon Wolf pointed out that the case would likely hinge on whether or not a Taser was considered a deadly weapon.
“Ultimately, this is what a prosecutor and a jury will have to answer: Was it reasonable for the police officer to fear imminent death or serious bodily harm when he discharged his weapon?” Wolf wrote.
In this case, Howard’s own words may haunt him in his prosecution.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was reportedly blindsided by Howard’s announcement of the charges. The agency posted on social media after the district attorney’s news conference that its investigation was still undergoing and that it was not consulted on the charges.
Howard is also reportedly under investigation by the agency for potentially using a nonprofit to funnel city of Atlanta funds to supplement his salary.
Following the announcement of charges against Rolfe, who was also promptly fired from the police department after the incident, large groups of Atlanta police officers have allegedly walked out. Though the Atlanta Police Department denied reports of similar activity on Wednesday.