ATLANTA, GA — Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. told reporters at a June 17 press conference that he believes that prosecutors should have the authority to bypass a grand jury in order to immediately indict police officers involved in shooting situations.
Before he spoke, he wiped his face several times.
At the press conference, Howard announced felony charges against former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who allegedly shot and killed Rayshard Brooks on June 12 after Brooks allegedly grabbed the officer’s Taser.
This is Paul Howard, the District Attorney that just charged an Atlanta cop with murder for defending himself. Howard is himself under criminal investigation for sexual harassment and for stealing $140k in city funds.
Officer Rolfe shouldn't be in prison. Paul Howard should. pic.twitter.com/HOlEyu2yvA
— Liberty Hangout (@LibertyHangout) June 18, 2020
NBC News reported that body and dash camera video show that the officers, Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, were attempting to arrest Brooks after he failed a sobriety test. The incident escalated when Brooks insisted that he could walk home. As the officers began taking him into custody, they struggled with Brooks.
Video shows Brooks running away from the officers with a stun gun that he had taken from one of them. He fired the taser back at Rolfe, who responded by shooting him, which resulted in Brooks’ death.
According to ABC News, Howard said:
“The Atlanta policy says you cannot fire a Taser at someone who is running away. So you certainly can’t fire a handgun at someone who is running away.”
According to WSB-TV, Rolfe is being charged with 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and violations to his oath of office.
Brosnan is being charged with aggravated assault and two violations of oath of office.
In the Fox 10 video, Howard said:
“One of the things that I’m hoping that we will pass, not only in our state, but in the entire country is that I think we need to change the law. I believe that prosecutors should be allowed to indict cases directly, without a grand jury, when they involve police shootings.”
Rofle’s attorneys said:
“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.”
However, Howard said that the taser did not present a danger to the officer as it had been allegedly fired twice and that it no longer presented a danger to the officer.
ABC News reported that Howard said:
“We’ve concluded that at the time Mr. Brooks was shot, he did not pose an imminent threat of serious injury to the officers.”
Howard seems to have been able to come to this conclusion prior to any investigation.
However, video clearly shows the officers struggled with Brooks who then breaks free and flees from them.
He said 32 minutes into the conference that Brooks was “slightly impaired.”
He also said:
“Mr. Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence, and this is a requirement of the Atlanta Police Department, when one is charged, the Atlanta Police Department’s own procedures require that that person is informed immediately that they are under arrest.”
Howard said his office concluded at the time of Brooks’ death that he did not pose a threat to the officers. He said Brooks was running away from the officers when Rolfe shot him in the back two times.
“We have also concluded that Rolfe was aware that the Taser in Brooks’ possession, it was fired twice, and once it’s fired twice, it presented no danger to him or to any other persons.”
Rolfe has been fired from the police department while Brosnan has been placed on administrative leave.
WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that Howard says this marks the 40th prosecution for police officers for misconduct in Fulton County and the ninth time they’ve prosecuted a homicide case against an officer.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is investigating the shooting. Howard said he worked with the GBI and Atlanta Police Department to reach the decision on charges, yet the GBI said in a Facebook post they were not aware the charges would be filed.
“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.”
Here’s an earlier report from Law Enforcement Today on the case of Rayshard Brooks.
The officers involved in the Rayshard Brooks case are going to be arrested.
Now we’re learning that the officer who pulled the trigger will be charged with felony murder and aggravated assault – and faces a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.
BREAKING: The police officer who shot and killed #RayshardBrooks has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. He faces a possible sentence of life without parole for murder. pic.twitter.com/QLO0reTkxi
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 17, 2020
Paul Howard, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, held a press conference on Wednesday to announce his decision on whether to bring charges against a former police officer and a second officer.
— KTVU (@KTVU) June 17, 2020
It’s the case of Rayshard Brooks, 27, a man out on parole who then failed a sobriety test and struggled with police when they tried to cuff him.
A man who then took the taser from an officer, ran from police, then turned and aimed the Taser at the police before Officer Rolfe shot him.
Brooks died after surgery at a nearby hospital, and an autopsy from the county medical examiner said he suffered two gunshot wounds to his back which killed him.
Let’s dive a little deeper into this case.
So here we are, just days removed from that tragic confrontation between Atlanta Police and Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot.
What do we know so far? I guess that depends on where you look.
The mainstream media has done a wonderful job of telling us that the officer who fired the shots that killed Brooks as well as the police chief were essentially forced to resign.
Newly released records show the officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta last week had several citizen complaints against him prior to the incident. https://t.co/CfnoDEc5zH pic.twitter.com/8Ia3EPsoKi
— CNN (@CNN) June 16, 2020
We know that protesters burned down The Wendy’s Restaurant where the Brooks fought with officers.
Most importantly, though, we know that media is continuing to focus on one issue: Furthering the divide in our country under a false narrative of the police shooting “yet another unarmed black man.”
Those of us in law enforcement are asking the question:
“Why did Mr. Brooks run and fight with the police?”
The answer does not take too long to figure out.
Rayshard Brooks is no stranger to encounters with law enforcement, as he is currently on parole.
With just a few clicks of a mouse we can see that Brooks has a past that includes several charges related to Domestic Battery, a 2014 conviction for Child Endangerment and Physical Neglect and a prior DUI.
So, the loving father and family man that the mainstream media is talking about certainly seems to have had another side to him.
This is unreal. They talk about him being a family man and moving to ohio to work and them coming back to "get ducks in a row." https://t.co/d51V4NSlSc Yes, those ducks were in the form of an extradition warrant. They fail to mention conviction on cruelty to child and battery.
— Daniel Horowitz (@RMConservative) June 16, 2020
We can look a little deeper and see that he has three charges of False Imprisonment between March of 2013 though March of 2014. At least one of these charges was related to Family Offenses. Most recently, Brooks had charges relating to theft.
So now let us go back to the Wendy’s parking lot that fateful night of June 12th, 2020 and look at this with ALL of the facts.
Officers find Brooks asleep behind the wheel. Brooks is very evasive with officers who are asking him basic questions, he can’t even tell officers what he was drinking.
Rayshard Brooks was convicted of child and spousal abuse but go off, king. https://t.co/zGehLvuBAh
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 16, 2020
Brooks continues to comply until the cuffs are about to go on and at that point, he is almost certain that a second DUI Arrest while he is on parole will result in a violation of his parole.
The fact that it is his second DUI charge would almost certainly elevate the penalty for that as well.
Now Brooks is fighting with two officers and he gains control of one of the officer’s Taser. According to the video, the officer who had his Taser out was seemingly trying to gain control of Brooks by using less than lethal force.
Keep in mind there are at least two guns in play because there are two officers on scene.
Next, Brooks seems to panic after he gets the Taser, he begins to run away but then turns and faces the officers and fires the Taser giving the officer who is closest to Brooks no choice but to use deadly physical force.
— JohnBottle (@kumbaya_x16) June 16, 2020
Had Brooks just attempted to escape, we would almost certainly be talking about a different outcome.
Without losing sight that a man has died and that it is a tragedy, the truth is, this was not murder.
Rayshard Brooks was the person that escalated the use of force that morning, not the Atlanta Police Department. Their officers, according to the video, were very professional and did not seem to be aggressive at all.
And yet, one officer is fired for taking a life that he almost assuredly did not want to take.
So why hasn’t the mainstream media brought experts in to clearly explain use of force? Good question. Why haven’t they contacted Axon, who manufactures Tasers, so their instructors can educate the general public on the device and what it does? Another good question.
"Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, murdered nine innocent African Americans at Mother Emanuel AME Church, and police managed to capture him alive. Brooks wounded a police officer’s pride and appears to have been executed for it." Eugene Robinson, https://t.co/lDCUueXMMH
— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) June 16, 2020
Finally, all the information on Rayshard Brooks was easily accessible and paints him in a much different light. So why does the mainstream media not publish this information and allow its viewers and readers to make up their own minds about what kind of person he was?
That is possibly the best question of all.
The country has been through a lot in 2020. The media should be reporting the facts…all the facts. Since COVID-19 they have created a divisive society and now they have their sights clearly set on making the police public enemy number one.
Here’s Law Enforcement Today’s original article on this incident.
Warning: The footage you’re going to see (below) is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.
The bodycam footage is out… and it shows that the narrative coming from the NAACP about what happened before the shooting of Rayshard Brooks was…well… dead wrong.
On Saturday, Atlanta’s NAACP vice president Gerald Griggs made his gas-lighting statements.
He said that the 27-year-old was sleeping in the passenger side of his car in a parking lot when police contacted him.
“The people are upset,” Griggs said, reported WAGA. “They want to know why their dear brother Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed when he was merely asleep on the passenger side and not doing anything.”
He probably should have waited to run his mouth until the bodycam footage was released, which shows the truth.
In the footage, you can see that Brooks was passed out in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, blocking the Wendy’s drive-thru line.
It all started at 10:33 p.m. on Friday when someone called police about a man who was asleep in his car, blocking the Wendy’s drive-thru off University Ave near I-75/85.
WXIA reported that officers arrived. They said that they gave field sobriety tests to 27-year old Rayshard Brooks.
At first, Officer Bronsan told Brooks to park in a parking spot if he wanted to sleep.
Shortly after, he smelled booze and it turned into a DUI investigation.
“I don’t want to deal with this dude right now,” Officer Bronsan said to himself in a comment caught on bodycam video.
The video showed that Brooks admitted he’d been drinking. His words slurred while he spoke.
Shortly after, Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived and administered field sobriety tests.
Once that was done, Brooks consented to a preliminary breath test. He blew a .108% BAC, which is above the legal limit.
Once they determined that he was intoxicated, they tried to arrest him, resulting in a full-on brawl that was partially captured on camera.
The suspect was able to fight off both officers, then take the Taser from one of them.
He got away from both of them and ran, holding the weapon. One of the two officers gave chase, trying to tase him.
Gunshots then ring out shortly after both officers chased him off-camera.
According to Mayor Bottoms, footage shows look over his shoulder and fired the taser at one of the officers… resulting in him being shot.
He was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital. WXIA reported that he died after surgery.
On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms herself announced that the footage existed. It was revealed when she talked about how Brooks actually fired the Taser at the officer.
Shortly after, she demanded the officer’s immediate firing.
“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do, and what you should do,” Mayor Bottoms said.
And although she didn’t say that the officer actually violated any policy, she called for his firing anyway.
“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force, and have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” the mayor continued.
“What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta, is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect, and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect,” Mayor Bottoms said.
Atlanta’s Police Chief Erika Shields resigned on Saturday.
According to Bottoms, it was Shields’ own decision to step aside as police chief. She said she’d remain with the city in an undetermined role.
For now Interim Corrections Chief Rodney Bryant would serve as interim police chief.
According to the mayor, former assistant police chief and current interim corrections chief Rodney Bryant will serve as interim police chief.
On Saturday night, the rioting began.
And it also didn’t take long for people to remind “protestors” that there’s plenty of bail money that’s been donated to bail you out if you get arrested.
— eli WILL attack and dethrone god (@elithebicycle) June 14, 2020
And of course shortly after Wendy’s was torched, people blamed the cops “employees losing their jobs” and “peaceful protestors put in danger”.
Police actions (killing & messing with evidence at crime scene) in Atlanta just led to Wendy's employees lose their jobs & put peaceful protestors in danger. Stop killing black people & neighborhoods & people remain safer.
— GirlJockNerd 🏳️🌈 (@girljocknerd) June 14, 2020
That Wendy’s where the fatal officer-involved shooting took place was first vandalized.
More peaceful protests in Atlanta this evening, I see! pic.twitter.com/Fb8AekmLh1
— Ethan Ralph (@TheRalphRetort) June 14, 2020
Then it was torched.
Rioters have set fire to the Wendy’s in Atlanta, Georgia, where police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks after he turned around on them with a brandished weapon last night pic.twitter.com/eJ03551XI6
— National Security News (@Natsecuritynews) June 14, 2020
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) June 14, 2020
Here we go.. they’re burning up a Wendy’s in Atlanta..
— Nίηα gσℓιgнтℓу🍥〰️ (@Feminina) June 14, 2020
People cheered and filmed it and we’re told fire crews had a problem responding to calls.
— J Doza 🧢🌹🌺🔮🇺🇸 (@JDoza1) June 14, 2020
Fire at Wendy's on University Ave in southwest Atlanta raging. A night to remember in Atlanta: Rayshard Brooks shot by an officer, the chief of Atlanta police resigned, and protesters stormed the interstate. Now, fire. #AtlantaShooting #AtlantaProtest pic.twitter.com/Fgjq7jhDiZ
— Ric Garni (@RICGARNI) June 14, 2020
Protestors shut down a highway in the city.
— Omar Moore (@thepopcornreel) June 14, 2020
ATLANTA: We’ve taken over the ENTIRE interstate 75! No traffic is moving! What did you think we meant, when we said #NoJusticeNoPeace? We’re NOT done! ##RayshardBrooks #GeorgeFloyd #BreonnaTaylor #AmaudArbery & so many others! pic.twitter.com/LhddrgSik7
— Jerome Trammel (@MrJeromeTrammel) June 14, 2020
Images show the freeway under the Atlanta airport shut down by people pulling donuts.
Under the runway on #285 airport in Atlanta at the airport. Shut down the freeway to do doughnuts…. guys pissed off looks like he ran over something, like a backpack or something towards the end. 🙈 pic.twitter.com/cxA3jSJkKi
— Montana 🕊 AgentApplebutt™ (@AgentApplebutt3) June 14, 2020
— Sarah Durnesque (@Durnesque) June 14, 2020
Chief Shields was already catching heat for another situation that went down during protests over the past couple of weeks.
Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, the two Atlanta Police Officers who were fired after using their tasers on two college students in a separate, are fighting back. They’re suing Shields and Mayor Bottoms for their jobs back.
The lawsuit states:
“Petitioners have suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal.”
BREAKING: Charges are being filed against fired Atlanta Police Officers Ivory Streeter (left) and Mark Gardner (right) for tasing the college couple from Spelman and Morehouse. pic.twitter.com/HHkl507uyz
— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) June 2, 2020
The officers were effecting a traffic stop after a 9pm curfew at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Andrew Young International Boulevard. Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, and former Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, were near downtown Atlanta and stopped their vehicle in the middle of the street.
One of the officers yelled several times for the driver, Young, to stop the car. Streeter allegedly smashed the driver’s side window and tased Young, and Gardner tased the passenger who allegedly refused to get out of the car.
Of course, there is very little being put out in the mainstream media as to why the officers elected to tase the poor, innocent students. And the information that is out there is being buried.
The vehicle was being signaled to stop…because there was another officer standing in the road a short way down from them. The driver didn’t comply, so officers surrounded his vehicle.
While ordering both occupants out of the car, both refused to comply. The driver reached his hands towards his pocket.
Mayor Bottoms was condemning the officers for the incident before an investigation even started. In a press conference, she said:
“[The video was] deeply disturbing on many levels. There was clearly an excessive use of force.”
After reviewing the body cam footage, Mayor Bottoms and Chief Shields ordered Officers Streeter and Gardner to be fired.
The next day, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced criminal charges against the two officers for aggravated assault, as well as four others who were reportedly on scene and involved. The possible charges for those officers have not yet been announced. They remain on desk duty.
In a memo to her officers, Chief Shields said that she fired Officers Streeter and Gardner because she “didn’t have an option,” but she never thought criminal charges would have been brought against any of the officers. She said it was a “political move” by DA Howard.
Shields also said:
“We created chaos and we escalated a low-level encounter into a space where we introduced violence. Once this occurs, we need to own it.
“The officers were fired because I felt that is what had to occur. This does not mean for a moment that I will sit quietly by and watch our employees get swept up in the tsunami of political jockeying during an election year.
“Now that the charges have been announced, I’m very concerned with the space we find ourselves in, both tactically and emotionally. Multiple agencies that were assisting us in managing this incredibly volatile time have pulled out, effective immediately. They are not comfortable with their employees being leveraged politically by the potential of also facing criminal charges.”
Five nearby agencies that were offering assistance to the city during riots have pulled out and elected to no longer assist.
DA Howard said he was “perplexed” by the accusation by Shields regarding political motivation. He said in a statement last Wednesday:
“The Chief, after assessing the excessiveness of the officers’ conduct, decided to fire two of the officers involved. After reviewing the police officers’ bodycam videos, she literally fired these officers on the spot.
“I am perplexed that when the Atlanta Chief of Police makes a decision within her authority her actions are legitimate, but when I, as the Fulton County District Attorney, make a decision to act under the law to ensure justice based on clear evidence available, these actions are deemed to be ‘political’ all of a sudden.”
For context, the charges against the officers occurred a week before the Democratic primary, where he faced two strong candidates. There were already two investigations open against Howard as he seeks his seventh term.
Both officers were serving in Atlanta PD’s Fugitive Unit as investigators. Streeter had been with the department since December 2003, and Gardner had been with them since August 1997.
The lawsuit claims that other officers “engaged in substantially similar conduct” and were not dismissed. The officers are seeking to be reinstated and to receive back pay and benefits.
Former Atlanta police officers, Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, who were fired for their part in the excessive force used against two Spelman and Morehouse College students live on-air, filed suit against the APD to get their jobs back.https://t.co/REAGgupX3O
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) June 9, 2020
The attorney representing the officers is Lance LoRusso, who stated:
“Both were fired before they could be interviewed by the Office of Professional Standards in direct violation of the policies and procedures of the Atlanta Police Department as well as the law. Any charges brought by a District Attorney without a full investigation should raise concerns.”
As a guest on a podcast, Mayor Bottoms said:
“So my police officers just got a very real lesson in what our expectations and what our level of tolerance will be in the city of Atlanta. If the force was excessive, they’ve got to be fired. Period.
“And I think those are the type changes and expectations that we’ve got to give to our police officers and the expectation we’ve got to give to our community because nobody has patience with waiting.”
One may argue to the mayor that, yes, waiting is difficult when one is seeking justice. Much like victims and families of victims all over the nation must wait for suspects who committed crimes against them to wait for trials to play out.
However, those trials are necessary to ensure that proper justice is done. To make sure the accused have a fair and impartial trial. To make sure they’re allowed their Constitutional right to due process.
Unless, of course, you’re a police officer.
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