Ex-officer faces felony murder charge in shooting death of Rayshard Brooks: DA

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was fatally shot in a Wendy's parking lot on Friday.

June 17, 2020, 7:26 PM

A former Atlanta police officer is facing charges including felony murder and aggravated assault after fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot last week, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Brooks, a black man, "was running away at the time that the shot was fired" by Officer Garrett Rolfe, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. said.

"At the time Mr. Brooks was shot," Howard said, "he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury."

Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. speaks during a press conference announcing charges against Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe in the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia, June 17, 2020.
Erik S Lesser/EPA via Shutterstock

Rolfe has since been fired.

If convicted of felony murder, the former officer could face the death penalty, Howard said.

The second officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative leave.

Howard said that Brosnan has since decided to testify on behalf of the state. But in a statement sent Wednesday evening, Brosnan's attorney, Don Samuel, said that the officer has not agreed to testify.

"He will continue to tell the DA or the GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation], or any other investigator what happened. But he is absolutely not guilty of any crime and will not plead guilty and has not agreed to be a 'state's witness,'" the statement said.

Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe is shown in this undated photo. | This undated photo provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Officer Devin Brosnan.
Atlanta Policer Department via Reuters | Atlanta Police Department via AP

Prosecutors have spoken with multiple witnesses, consulted with a Taser expert, looked at physical evidence and viewed surveillance video, dashboard camera and witness cellphone video, Howard said.

Howard said he concluded that Rolfe was aware that the Taser Brooks was holding had been fired twice. Howard explained, "Once it's fired twice, it presented no danger to him or to any other person."

After Brooks was shot, Rolfe "kicked Mr. Brooks while he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life," Howard said. "Secondly, from the videotape, we were able to see that the other officer, Brosnan, actually stood on Mr. Brooks' shoulders while he was there struggling for his life."

Brosnan faces two charges of violations of oath and a charge of aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks' shoulder, the district attorney said.

Brooks, a 27-year-old husband, father and stepfather, was fatally shot on Friday. His death sparked an arson, new protests, an investigation and the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.

A Wendy's restaurant burns following a rally against racial inequality and the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, June 13, 2020.
Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters
PHOTO: People gather for a civil rights National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protest march, June 15, 2020 in Atlanta.
People gather for a civil rights National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protest march, June 15, 2020 in Atlanta. The fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a black man, by a white police officer in Atlanta has poured more fuel on the raging U.S. debate over racism, prompting another round of street protests and the resignation of the southern city's police chief.
Wes Bruer/AFP via Getty Images

Brooks was killed after officers were called to a Wendy's parking lot for reports of a man, later identified as Brooks, asleep in his car. Police gave Brooks a Breathalyzer test, which registered a blood-alcohol level of .108%, above the legal limit of .08%.

Brooks was "calm," "cordial" and "displayed a cooperative nature" when speaking with the police officers, Howard said.

Frame grab from police camera footage of the arrest of Rayshard Brookes by Atlanta Police, June 13, 2020.
Atlanta Police Department via Reuters

When officers tried to place him in handcuffs, Brooks began to struggle and wrestled with both officers on the ground, grabbing an officer's stun gun.

Surveillance video showed Brooks running through the parking lot with the officers behind him. At one point, Brooks turned and allegedly shot the stun gun at an officer, who drew his weapon and opened fire.

At the time the shot was fired, Rolfe made an "excited utterance," and said, "I got him," Howard said.

Brooks died from two gunshots to his back, the medical examiner determined.

After Brooks was shot, medical attention wasn't provided for 2 minutes and 12 seconds, Howard said.

"The demeanor of the officers immediately after the shooting did not reflect any fear or danger of Mr. Brooks, but their actions really reflected other kinds of emotions," Howard said.

Rayshard Brooks, a father of three daughters and a stepson, was shot and killed by police in Atlanta, June 12, 2020.
Stewart Trial Attorneys

Howard said his office is asking Rolfe and Brosnan to surrender by 6 p.m. Thursday.

Prosecutors are asking the court to grant a bond of $50,000 for Brosnan, said Howard. No bond is recommended for Rolfe, he said.

At a press briefing Wednesday following the announcement of the charges, Brooks' wife, Tomika Miller, said she hoped that "everything falls out how it needs to fall out."

"Father's Day is coming up and all I can do is just think about, what if my husband was still here?" she said.

She said she was very hurt to hear that the officers allegedly kicked and stood on her husband’s body as he died.

“I felt everything that he felt just by hearing what he went through. And it hurt. It hurt really bad,” she said before exiting the presser in tears.

An attorney for Brooks' family, Justin Miller, said Wednesday that the charges are just "step one."

"Step two is convictions on all charges, and after that we have to try to find a way to make things right," he said. "Justice is not something that's going to be easy in this case. It never is. How do you find justice for three little girls who will never see their father again?"

L. Chris Stewart, another attorney for the family, said the announcement of the charges isn't a "celebration."

"Nobody's happy," he said. "Nobody is celebrating because this never should have happened."

In a statement on Wednesday, attorneys for the officers said, "Mr. Brooks chose to violently attack two uniformed police officers."

The officers "attempted to leverage him to the ground while giving him loud, clear verbal commands ... in response, Mr. Brooks continued actively resisting lawful efforts to arrest him," the attorneys said. "He then escalated his resistance by punching Officer Rolfe in the face."

"Mr. Brooks continued his assault and disarmed Officer Brosnan, stealing his city-issued TASER," the attorneys said. "Instead of merely trying to escape, Mr. Brooks reached back with his arm extended and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe. Officer Rolfe heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him. Fearing for his safety, and the safety of the civilians around him, Officer Rolfe dropped his taser and fired his service weapon at the only portion of Mr. Brooks that presented to him -- Mr. Brooks’ back."

The attorneys say Rolfe's actions were justified under the law.

"When Mr. Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, any officer would have reasonably believed that he intended to disarm, disable, or seriously injure him," they said.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a statement following the charges, saying, "It is my hope that justice will be served -- not only for the family of Mr. Brooks, but for the victims and families of the other use of force cases waiting to be resolved by the District Attorney. My condolences and prayers remain with the family of Mr. Brooks, as well as the other families awaiting justice."

The GBI said it was not finished with its investigation and still planned to submit the independent review to the district attorney's office.

"The GBI was not aware of today’s press conference before it was conducted," it said in a statement. "We were not consulted on the charges filed by the District Attorney. Despite today’s occurrence, the GBI will complete its mission of completing an impartial and thorough investigation of this incident and we will submit the file, once completed, to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office."

PHOTO: Tomika Miller, the wife of Rayshard Brooks, holds their daughter Memory, 2, during the family press conference, June 15, 2020, in Atlanta.
Tomika Miller, the wife of Rayshard Brooks, holds their daughter Memory, 2, during the family press conference, June 15, 2020, in Atlanta. Brooks was killed by an APD officer Friday.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Miller told ABC News on Sunday that she feels "like I'm just a statistic."

"Now I'm by myself taking care of four children," she said. "This was not a choice -- they forced this on me by taking my husband away, by taking my family."

"No justice will ever get that back," she added.

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson, Alondra Valle and Stephanie Wash contributed to this report.

ABC’s Mark Remillard reports for ABC News Radio:

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