Former Atlanta officer charged in Brooks killing surrenders to authorities

By Nathan Layne and Rich McKay ATLANTA (Reuters) - The former Atlanta police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks last week turned himself into authorities on Thursday afternoon, in keeping with an arrangement with prosecutors, according to county jail records. Garrett Rolfe, a white officer charged on Wednesday in the killing, was being held at the Fulton County jail. He was fired by the department on Saturday, a day after the shooting in a Wendy's parking lot in south Atlanta.

Reuters June 19, 2020 03:10:44 IST
Former Atlanta officer charged in Brooks killing surrenders to authorities

Former Atlanta officer charged in Brooks killing surrenders to authorities

By Nathan Layne and Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The former Atlanta police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks last week turned himself into authorities on Thursday afternoon, in keeping with an arrangement with prosecutors, according to county jail records.

Garrett Rolfe, a white officer charged on Wednesday in the killing, was being held at the Fulton County jail. He was fired by the department on Saturday, a day after the shooting in a Wendy's parking lot in south Atlanta.

In announcing the charges on Wednesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he had recommended no bond for Rolfe, who shot Brooks twice in the back with his service handgun after a scuffle. Rolfe was charged with felony murder and 10 other counts.

A second officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, did not discharge his weapon. He faces a handful of lesser charges, including aggravated assault and violation of his oath.

Brosnan turned himself in at the Fulton County Jail earlier on Thursday and was released on bond, according to his lawyer.

The death of Brooks - the latest in a long line of African Americans whose fatal encounters with law enforcement have been documented on video - further heightened U.S. social tensions at a time of national soul searching over police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system.

Howard also said Brosnan had agreed to turn state's evidence against his fellow officer.

"He has decided to testify on behalf of the state in this case," the prosecutor said at a briefing to announce the charges.

But Brosnan's attorney, Don Samuel, on Thursday denied that his client had made such an agreement.

While his client had told Howard's office "everything" during a lengthy interview and would cooperate with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's probe, he had not agreed to be "state's witness," the lawyer said.

"Officer Brosnan has not agreed to testify.  He has not agreed to plead guilty," Samuel said in a statement, adding that he "has not agreed to be a 'state's witness.'"

The killing of Brooks followed a national wave of protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder. Three other Minneapolis policemen were charged with aiding and abetting.

The police encounter with Brooks started out calmly after he was found sleeping in his car at a Wendy's fast-food restaurant drive-through lane in Atlanta. Rolfe and Brosnan administered a sobriety test, after which the situation escalated.

Previously released video of Brooks appeared to show him grabbing one of the officer's Taser stun guns and turning and pointing it at Rolfe before being shot. Howard said Thursday that investigators concluded Rolfe knew by then that the Taser had already been fired twice and thus was rendered harmless.

One of the bullets from Rolfe's gun hit a white Chevy Trailblazer at the Wendy's, threatening the life of the three passengers inside, according to Howard and the charging documents against the two officers.

One of the car's passengers, Michael Perkins, told a media briefing on Thursday that he had taken cover in the back seat as the struggle between the officers and Brooks escalated. He said he "smelt gunsmoke" but was unaware the car had taken a bullet until later.

"I almost was killed myself. I feel troubled about it but I'm glad the family is getting the justice it deserves."

Samuel described the decision to charge his client as "irrational" and politically motivated. He said Brosnan's conduct on the night of the shooting was "exemplary" and a "textbook example" of how an officer should approach a situation involving someone inebriated, as Brooks was that night.

While Brosnan did not fire his gun, Howard charged him with aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks' body after he was shot and for violating his oath of office by not rendering medical aid immediately after Brooks went down.

Samuel said Brosnan, despite suffering a concussion during a tussle with Brooks, rushed to provide medical aid.

A private funeral for Brooks is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church said in statement. On Monday a public viewing is scheduled at the church.

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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