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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Atlanta officer involved in shooting death of Rayshard Brooks is reinstated

Atlanta officer involved in shooting death of Rayshard Brooks is reinstated

Officer Garrett Rolfe is seen with Rayshard Brooks on a screen grab taken from body-camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department.
Officer Garrett Rolfe is seen with Rayshard Brooks on a screen grab taken from body-camera video provided by the Atlanta police department. Photograph: AP

Last modified on Wed 5 May 2021 14.02 EDT

Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta police officer who was fired after the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, has been reinstated after appealing against his firing to the Atlanta Civil Service Board.

The decision to reinstate Rolfe was delivered on Wednesday by the Atlanta Civil Service Board, which is the “official protector of the civil service system”, according to the City of Atlanta’s official website.

The board’s sole purpose, according to the order that was released, “is to examine the issues of adverse employment action(s) in accordance with the Atlanta City ‘Code’”. The order also said that the board was not charged with determining or making reference to the criminality of Rolfe’s actions. To date, Rolfe has not been indicted.

The board is composed of Atlanta citizens who are recommended by the mayor and confirmed by Atlanta’s city council.

Rolfe, who was charged with murder following the shooting death of Brooks, shot him in the parking lot of a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, just south of downtown Atlanta. He was fired on 13 June, a day after he and another police officer responded to complaints that Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane of the Wendy’s restaurant.

Police body-camera video shows the 27-year-old Black man struggling with two white officers after they told him he had had too much to drink to be driving and tried to arrest him. Brooks grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and fled, firing it at Rolfe three times, according to the order released on Wednesday, as he ran.

An autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.

Officer Devin Brosnan, who responded to the scene with Rolfe, was charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath. Lawyers for both officers have said their clients acted appropriately, and they are free on bond.

The former Fulton county district attorney Paul Howard, who lost his bid for re-election in November 2020, brought the original charges against Rolfe and Brosnan less than a week after the shooting. Fani Willis, who took office in January replacing Howard, has twice asked Georgia’s attorney general, Chris Carr, to reassign the case, saying actions by Howard made it inappropriate for her office to continue handling the case.

Carr has refused, saying the potential problems she cited were specific to Howard, so the responsibility for the case remained with her office. Judge Christopher Brasher of Fulton county superior court last month asked Willis to provide evidence showing why she should not be involved by this past Monday so that he can make a decision on the matter.

“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,” the board said in its decision, according to news outlets. “Therefore, the Board grants the Appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD.”

Also included in the order is the opinion of Sgt William Dean, an Atlanta police department veteran of 25 years currently assigned to APD’s advocacy unit of internal affairs.

Dean testified that Rolfe’s dismissal “seemed rushed and sufficient time was not provided for the Appellant to submit a response”. The order also says Dean testified that due to heightened community concerns surrounding Brooks’ shooting, “the Appellant was told not to be inside the City limits for his own safety.”

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