ATLANTA, GA – The lawyers for former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe filed a motion on Monday to have Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard removed from the Rayshard Brooks case.
Rolfe was accused of shooting and killing Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta on June 12. Rolfe and another former officer, Devin Brosnan, had responded to a call of a sleeping motorist who was blocking the drive-thru.
When a field sobriety test was administered, it established probable cause to arrest Brooks. When the officers tried to handcuff Brooks, he attacked them, took a taser from Brosnan and activated it against him.
Brosnan then fell to the pavement and sustained a concussion and other injuries, according to the officer’s lawyer, Don Samuel.
Brooks fled with the taser in his hand, and Rolfe pursued him. Brooks turned around and fired the stolen taser at Rolfe, who then responded by drawing his service weapon and fatally shooting him.
In a 12-page motion, attorneys for former APD Officer Garrett Rolfe outline three reasons why
they say Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard should not be involved in the #RayshardBrooks casehttps://t.co/315GUMKECA
— Jennifer Bellamy (@JBellamyTV) July 21, 2020
On June 17, Howard held a press conference and announced he was charging Rolfe with murder for shooting Brooks, who stole the taser and activated it twice against both officers.
Howard also insisted that Brooks presented no threat to either officer:
“Mr. Brooks never displayed any aggressive behavior.”
However, the body cam video contradicts Howard’s statement because it clearly shows Brooks resisting arrest, scuffling with officers, stealing an officer’s taser and firing it at the officers while fleeing.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard's campaign ad brags about his hatred for law enforcement. https://t.co/vjCBml0Cws
— BEN (@AndStrats) July 24, 2020
Howard also announced at the press conference that Officer Brosnan was facing three felony charges.
According to WSB, the motion filed on July 20 read:
“Paul Howard has systematically sought to deprive Garrett Rolfe of a fair trial and impartial jury since the day he announced his decision to arrest Garrett Rolfe.”
In addition, Samuel claimed that prosecutors didn’t bother looking at his client’s medical records and said his client had not agreed to be a state’s witness.
So basically the corrupt DA of Fulton County is a liar.
— MsTonyDee (@CarmiOnTheVerge) June 17, 2020
Meanwhile, Brosnan’s other attorney, Amanda Clark Palmer, confirmed there is no agreement for her client to testify — also contradicting what Howard said at the press conference.
On CNN, Palmer said:
“To be clear, there is no agreement that our client will testify at any hearing.”
When asked if her client might become a state’s witness, Palmer said:
“In my view, he doesn’t need a deal; he shouldn’t have been charged with a crime in the first place.”
“He’s not a state’s witness, he’s a witness. He will tell the truth about what he saw and what happened. And he will do so if he gets a subpoena.”
Palmer told USA Today in an email that Brosnan cooperated with the DA’s office when he was interviewed.
She also called the DA’s decision to charge Brosnan “irrational.”
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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) released a statement on their official Facebook page that said it had not yet concluded its investigation of the incident.
Rolfe’s attorney, Noah Pines, accused Howard of behaving “unethically” and capitalizing on a series of national tragedies to help his re-election campaign.
In a lengthy statement posted to the official Facebook page of Georgia Law Enforcement, attorney Noah Pines said:
“I’ve been prosecuting or defending Georgians in the criminal justice system for 25 years.
“But never in my career have I seen a District Attorney act so unethically without regard for his professional obligations in pursuit of reelection.
“Twice in the past few weeks Paul Howard has put his own ambitions ahead of the good of his constituents as he seeks to capitalize on a series of national tragedies.
“Under Georgia’s Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, Paul Howard is prohibited from making ‘extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.’
“In fact, he is only permitted to inform the ‘pubic of the nature and extent’ of his actions ‘that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose.’
“He has violated that rule today and also made blatant false statements. He has also acted rashly, before the official investigation has been completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
“Had Paul Howard waited for the GBI to complete its investigation he would have learned that while Rayshard Brooks’ death was tragic, Officer Garrett Rolfe’s actions were justified under Georgia law and that there is no legal basis to charge him with 11 felonies.”
The GBI has expanded its investigation of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to include his office’s use of subpoenas following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot in south Atlanta.https://t.co/FvgSZQhClt pic.twitter.com/TY6PSstweM
— WSB Radio (@wsbradio) July 20, 2020
The statement further said:
“The DUI investigation that followed was routine, and at the end of it, Officer Rolfe determined that he had probable cause arrest Mr. Brooks.
“No one is disputing that probable cause existed for Mr. Brooks’ arrest. And there is no argument that Officer Rolfe was anything other than courteous to Mr. Brooks over the course of their encounter.
“There is also no dispute that, up until the moment of his arrest, Mr. Brooks, too, was polite and cooperative.
“Suddenly, something changed. Mr. Brooks began to struggle with, and attack, both Officer Brosnan and Officer Rolfe.
“Under Georgia law, Mr. Brooks’ forceful resistance to arrest, and his attack on the officers, constituted felony obstruction.”
Pines also explains that tasers are an offensive weapon and one that has been claimed “deadly” by Howard himself:
“All Georgia citizens, including police officers, are entitled to use force to defend themselves from forcible felonies.
“Over the course of the encounter, Officers Brosnan and Rolfe attempted to use the least amount of force necessary to end the encounter and ensure their safety, while Mr. Brooks continued to escalate, until he at last he punched Officer Rolfe in the face, a second felony.
“Then, Mr. Brooks took Officer Brosnan’s TASER, a third felony.
“A TASER is an offensive weapon under Georgia law and has been declared to be a deadly weapon by Paul Howard; in fact, one of his investigators swore that a TASER is a deadly weapon before the Honorable Belinda Edwards on June 2, 2020.”
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
THE CITIZENS OF FULTON COUNTY DESERVE BETTER!#FaniWillisforDA
Elect Fani Willis for Fulton County District Attorney
Early Voting Begins – July 20, 2020
Runoff Election – August 11, 2020
— Fani Willis For Fulton District Attorney (@FaniWillisForDA) June 11, 2020
Willis served as the chief assistant to the district attorney under Howard and told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher that she will remind voters that the county’s top law enforcement official is under a criminal investigation.
Channel 2 discovered that the city of Atlanta sent $250,000 to the district attorney’s office for crime prevention programs and almost 80% of that went into Howard’s paycheck.
Howard in May called the issue an “administrative matter” and said he expects to be exonerated.
“He does what is best for him and what the district attorney should do is what’s for the people. We see that in you stealing $195,000 from black and brown children.”
She also accused Howard of just going with the political flow:
“You indict police really quick when it’s good for you, but when it’s not good for you, you wait for the news to die down. Why don’t you just do what’s right when it’s right?”
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Howard’s charge was a “catastrophic mistake” and “grossly” inflated:
“Look, if there’s a jury trial, here’s what the judge is going to say to the jurors before they start deliberating.
“If that police officer reasonably believed that Mr. Brooks was using or was about to use deadly force on him, the police officer, then the police officer is permitted to use deadly force to protect himself.
“Secondly, the determination of what was in the police officer’s mind is not what a reasonable civilian would do, but what a reasonable police officer would do.”
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