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Atlanta Cop Who Shot Rayshard Brooks in the Back Charged With 11 Counts—Including Felony Murder

"Make no mistake, the swiftness of this investigation is the result of people marching and demanding accountability."

Protesters took part in the March on Georgia, organized by NAACP, on June 15, 2020 in Atlanta. The march followed the police killing of Rayshard Brooks outside an Atlanta Wendy's restaurant on June 12.

Protesters took part in the March on Georgia, organized by NAACP, on June 15, 2020 in Atlanta. The march followed the police killing of Rayshard Brooks outside an Atlanta Wendy's restaurant on June 12. (Photo: Dustin Chambers/Getty Images)

Fired Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe is now facing 11 charges including felony murder for fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, twice in the back outside a Wendy's restaurant on Friday night, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

"Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat," Howard said, outlining a conversation between Brooks, Rolfe, and fellow officer Devin Brosnan that lasted over 40 minutes before a physical encounter that led to Rolfe shooting Brooks as he attempted to flee with a stun gun. Brooks was also never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence.

Howard said that based on videos and witness interviews, the officers failed to provide timely medical attention after Rolfe shot Brooks. Instead, "Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks while he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life," the D.A. said. "Officer Brosnan actually stood on Mr. Brooks' shoulders while he was there struggling for his life."

According to The Associated Press:

The felony murder charge against Rolfe carries life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors choose to seek it. He was also charged with 10 other offenses punishable by decades behind bars.

...Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and other offenses but is cooperating with prosecutors and will testify, according to the district attorney, who said it was the first time in 40 such cases in which an officer has come forward to do this.

However, Brosnan's attorney, Don Samuel, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday that his client has neither agreed to be a state's witness nor admitted to doing anything wrong.

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After the shooting, Rolfe was fired, Brosnan was put on administrative duty, and police chief Erika Shields resigned. Local advocacy groups have demanded not only justice for Brooks and personnel changes to the city's police force but also actions to "end the systemic oppression and anti-black racism rooted in the Atlanta Police Department and other law enforcement agencies."

Brooks' killing came amid a wave of demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality toward people of color sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by Minneapolis police in late May. Videos on social media of Brooks' encounter with Rolfe and Brosnan have fueled protests in Georgia's capital since the weekend.

In a series of tweets responding to the charges Wednesday, Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law noted it would be unusual for Brosnan to cooperate with the prosecution and wrote: "Make no mistake, the swiftness of this investigation is the result of people marching and demanding accountability."

Howard urged both Rolfe and Brosnan turn themselves in by 6 pm local time Thursday. He recommended that Rolfe be denied bond and Brosnan be granted a $50,000 bond.

This post has been updated with a comment that Don Samuel, Devin Brosnan's attorney, gave to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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