Fulton County DA attends funeral of Rayshard Brooks. We’re supposed to believe there will be a “fair investigation”?

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This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

FULTON COUNTY, GA – Ok, this sounds like a conflict of interest.

On Tuesday, Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Paul Howard attended the funeral for Rayshard Brooks, the longtime criminal who was shot and killed by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe after Brooks tried to shoot at him with a Taser.

Rolfe was arrested, as was the second officer at the scene, with Rolfe being charged with eleven felonies, including felony murder, a death penalty statute. 

Howard said he was invited to the funeral at the invitation of the Brooks family.

In an interview with ABC News, Howard told the outlet that watching Brooks’ family at the service “magnified the hurt” he felt when he watched the video of Brooks death, as he ran from police after resisting arrest, fighting with the officers, stealing one of their Taser’s and fleeing, only to turn as he ran and fire at Rolfe. Heartbreaking, right?

“Because of our investigation (which lasted only four days and was complete before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation completed its own probe), I had a chance to watch an extraordinary kind of interchange between him and two police officers, and it’s almost like you got a chance to know something about him and his life just by watching [those] 41 minutes or so. And so, I wanted to honor his death.”

Amazing…absolutely amazing that Howard focused on the 41 minutes when Brooks wasn’t acting like a common criminal, instead of the 3-4 minutes when he was.

And we are to think that somehow these officers got a fair “investigation” from this man? Clearly, he has an agenda, and it isn’t one that favors a blind justice system.

Rightly so, Howard is facing overwhelming criticism from both lawmakers, as well as the police union representing Atlanta police officers, as well as law enforcement in general after he decided to charge Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan in Brooks’ shooting death. Howard however said he was “just doing [his] job.”

“What we do is look at evidence. And in this case, we had the evidence that was before us. And my philosophy is we should move,” he told ABC.

“If we had been talking about a civilian who shot someone, I’ve never heard anybody say that we indicted or charged the civilian quickly. It’s strange that people only talk about quickly when you’re talking about a policeman. I think that’s one of the things that we’ve got to change in this country.”

Well Mr. Howard, let us explain the difference. Typically, when there is a shooting of someone, it is either a crime of passion, such as in a domestic, or it is a crime in and of itself, such as 104 people in Chicago found out last weekend. In the case of a police officer, in 99.9% of the cases, the police officer was put in the position BY the actions of the person whom they shot.

There are a lot more webs to go through in the case of a police shooting due to the fact that in a number of cases, the use of deadly physical force by police is permitted. A fair, equitable and impartial investigation demands that police get at least some benefit of the doubt. Why rush to judgment?

Howard denied any political motivation in his decision to charge the two officers and referred to a 2002 case which was the first case involving police that his office prosecuted. That was the case of a 19-year-old black male who was killed by police while he was sitting in his mother’s car. Police believed that the car was stolen.

“Every case that we’ve handled, that’s what they’ve said, it’s political, every case,” Howard said.

He also brushed off criticism about jumping the shark on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) before they had completed their investigation. He said that his office “had enough evidence to move” and that they are not required to “wait for anyone.”

Howard also seemed to take a veiled shot at the GBI, noting that it is a state police office. “I guess people are suggesting that we should wait for the police to tell us how they’ve investigated themselves. I don’t think that’s the way that the law works. We are independent. We made an independent decision and we will appreciate the report when they get it to us,” Howard said.

Howard said that his office continues its investigation and is preparing for a bond hearing scheduled for Off. Rolfe next Tuesday. He said that he doesn’t expect a grand jury to convene until October 1.

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He also said that his office is not considering the death penalty in the case (although we’re sure the mob will demand it) for the felony murder charge in the case. “We have not even gotten to the point that we’re thinking about what kind of sentence we’re asking,” he said.

In the meantime, Rolfe and Brosnan, through their attorneys have denied the allegations against them, including the claim they were late in administering aid to Brooks after he was shot. Howard said that he charged the officers based on videotape evidence.

“It’s really critical in a case when somebody has been shot twice in the back that there ought to be some immediate medical attention, and I know people will say that you shot in the heart and that means you can’t survive; that doesn’t mean that you should not try.”

Howard claims that the officers “broke the rules” (apparently rules are now crimes) when they did not immediately provide medical aid to Brooks.

Howard has also showed some prosecutorial dyslexia regarding whether or not a Taser is a deadly weapon. In a recent case involving the tasing of two college students who were involved in protests in the city, Howard had accused the officers of shooting a deadly weapon at the two, however in this case just a mere week or so later, he decided that Brooks shooting the Taser toward the officers did not constitute using deadly force.

“You know what they seem to be saying, ‘Mr. Howard, if you’re not perfect, if you made a mistake in the other case then now you have to bear with it,” he said. So now, after charging six police officers criminally for using a Taser on protesters for “excessive force,” Howard now says it was a “mistake?” After officers lost their jobs over it? There seems to be something seriously wrong with this guy.

Howard called the criticism “hogwash” and disgraceful to Brooks.

“First of all, Mr. Brooks, at the time he was shot, he was running away, his back was turned. He was not firing a Taser. So why people are engaged in this imaginary argument about a Taser, I’m not real sure,” he said.

So, the video where you see the flash come from the Taser as Brooks points it back at the officers and you can hear a “pop” come from it indicates that he “was not firing a Taser?” Howard seems to have a bit of trouble with either his vision, hearing, the facts or all three. We’ll go with the latter.

He continued that the Taser had no impact on Brooks death. “He was some 18 feet, 3 inches away from the officer when he shot him. And I would just ask people to use their common sense. And if you did that, I don’t think you’d be talking about a Taser.”

So now, officers have to sit there with a tape measure or a laser measure and calculate the distance from them to a subject armed with a Taser to ensure they are the proper distance where they won’t be a threat? Is this guy for real?

Howard also contended that Rolfe kicked Brooks and Brosnan stood on his shoulder, which Brosnan actually admitted to saying he thought he was still a threat.

“Number one you don’t shoot a man in the back. You know, it’s the immediate sign of a coward when you shoot a man in the back. But once you do that, when a man is already down, you know, even if you were hunting an animal, if you were hunting a deer, when the deer is down, you don’t walk over and kick him and stand on him,” Howard said.

Howard is clearly emotionally involved in this case, and worse yet, he is attempting to try the case in the court of public opinion. He might want to speak with Baltimore District Attorney Marilyn Moseby about that, since she tried that and failed miserably with the Freddy Gray case.

Howard also sympathizes with the violent protests and looting taking place around the country.

“Did you see the insult to humanity? What are we going to do about that? And I think what those young kids on the streets (you know, the ones beating people up, burning down buildings, and looting stores) are trying to say to people is, ‘When are you going to pay attention to what’s really happening?’”

Of course, Howard has some wonderful ideas for policy suggestions to change policing. An independent government agency to investigate any police misconduct, having district attorneys (with an agenda like himself) as “gatekeepers” for the criminal justice system, bypassing a grand jury in cases where police officers cause the death of a civilian.

He also advocates body/dash cameras for all police officers and vehicles among other ideas, even though a majority of police departments currently utilize one or both.

He also dismissed the idea of the “thin blue line.”

“What I hear people say often is, ‘Well you know, there’s some good police officers, some bad ones, few bad ones, but everybody else is good.’ And this is where I ask people all the time, ‘Well guys, when is the last time you heard of those good officer testifying or complaining about the bad officers,’” he said.

Howard in closing offered another false equivalency that is promoted by anti-police zealots but is not backed up by the facts.

“As an African American, my feeling is the reason we haven’t stopped is because the deaths are mainly deaths of African Americans—and until we accept the fact that we are not treated equally as citizens of this country, we will continue to make these mistakes.”

Sorry, Mr. Howard. In 2019, twice as many unarmed whites were killed by police than blacks. Check out the Washington Post database of police shootings. You might learn something. You might also want to watch your own house. Stealing money from a non-profit for at risk youth isn’t a good look.


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