Former Atlanta Officer Who Killed Rayshard Brooks Has Been Charged With Felony Murder
Documents revealed the former Atlanta police officer also shot another Black man in the back in 2015.
June 17, 2020 at 8:57 pm
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced Garrett Rolfe would face 11 criminal charges on Wednesday.
Howard said Brooks never displayed aggressive behavior toward responding officers during the encounter before he was shot and killed. He added that officers failed to provide timely lifesaving medical attention and said Rolfe kicked the 27-year-old while he was on the ground "fighting for his life."
Rolfe, who has since been fired from the police force, could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted.
Another officer at the scene of the shooting, Devin Brosnan, has been charged with aggravated assault after he stood or stepped on Brooks' shoulder after he was shot. Brosnan, who said he would be willing to testify for the state against Rolfe, was praised by the attorney for Brooks' family.
"Even in dark times like this, you have to try and see the light, and the positivity of this situation is the courageousness of officer Brosnan to step forward and say what happened was wrong," attorney Chris Stewart said. "It is officers like that who change policing. I know he'll probably catch all kind of problems and hate. That's why you become a police officer: Do what's right."
Days before charges were filed against Rolfe, it was revealed that Rolfe had 12 previous incidents on his record that were investigated. In a file uncovered by The Guardian, documents showed Rolfe had previously shot another Black person in 2015.
These are the two men that street executed #RayshardBrooks. Atlanta Police have placed officer Devin Brosnan (right) on leave (hired in 2018) and fired Garrett Rolfe (left) (hired in 2013). The city's police chief has resigned. No arrests so far. #AtlantaShooting #AtlantaProtest pic.twitter.com/IAOke9W35a— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) June 14, 2020
According to The Guardian, Rolfe and two other officers shot Jackie Jermaine Harris in August 2015 in an incident involving a stolen truck.
The officer who killed #RayshardBrooks allegedly covered up a police shooting of another Black man in 2015, reports @guardian.— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 17, 2020
Court records show Garrett Rolfe — who has 12 incidents on his disciplinary record — and others shot at a man in a stolen truck, but never reported it. pic.twitter.com/Hdi3rDGUvd
The news outlet obtained documents from the court hearing in 2016 where Judge Doris L. Downs criticized Rolfe and the other officers for their conduct.
The Guardian reported that Harris rammed a truck into a police car before Rolfe and two other officers let off a string of shots at him. One of the bullets hit Harris and collapsed his lung, but he survived and ended up pleading guilty to charges of theft, property damage, fleeing arrest and damaging a police vehicle.
Rolfe and his fellow officers, however, failed to accurately report the details of the shooting.
“It’s the wildest case I’ve seen in my 34 years here. None of the police put in the report that they shot the man – none of them. And they sent him to Grady [Memorial Hospital] with collapsed lungs and everything, and the report doesn’t mention it,” Downs told the court at the time.
“I am ethically going to be required to turn all of them in. What the police did was wrong, and they will have to answer for what they did,” Downs said, implying that the officers should be investigated by state or federal officials.
Despite Downs' comments, it is unclear if anything was ever done about Rolfe's failure to accurately report the shooting.
At the time, both Downs and Harris' lawyer were astonished when they saw the police report, which only said he had been injured and made no mention of the officers shooting him.
“Being shot in the back and ultimately having your lung collapse is something more than an injury that was caused during the incident. We do expect officers to uphold the law. I cannot think of a plausible reason as to why they would have omitted that information [about the shooting],” Harris’ attorney Serena Nunn said in court.
Rolfe and Brosnan were seen on multiple cameras struggling with Brooks before Rolfe shot him in the back on June 12.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the city would be revising the level of force allowed within the police department.
Local news outlet THV11 reported that Rolfe had taken courses on de-escalation tactics, cultural awareness and use of deadly force in the weeks and months before he killed Brooks.
During his trial, Harris implored the court to do something about Rolfe before he shot another Black person. According to The Guardian, Harris wrote to Downs while he was in jail, saying Rolfe's actions made him a danger to the city of Atlanta.
“Not only have I been wronged, but society as well [has been wronged] by allowing this officer to continue to patrol our streets of Metro Atlanta,” Harris said.
He was eventually given a sentence of time served and spent a year on probation.
“I just don’t want them to get away with what they did to me,” Harris told the court in 2016.