Rayshard Brooks: former officer charged with felony murder

7 months ago 35
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Fulton County District Attorney Paul L Howard Jr announced on Wednesday the issuing of arrest warrants for former officer Garrett Rolfe on 11 charges, including felony murder and felony assault, in relation to the killing of Rayshard Brooks in the US city of Atlanta. 

Rolfe could face life without parole or the death penalty, Howard said. 

"Mr Brooks never presented himself as a threat", Howard said during a press conference announcing the charges. Brooks never showed aggressive behaviour, he continued. 

Officer Devin Brosnan, who was also on scene, has become a state's witness and will testify against Rolfe, an unprecedented development in a case against a former police officer. 

Brosnan also admitted he stood on Brooks' body after he was shot. Howard is recommending Brosnan  receive a $50,000 bond and be released due to his decision to cooperate. 

Howard said they are recommending Rolfe not receive a bond. 

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The investigation began at "1:15am on Saturday morning," Howard said, "and has continued round the clock since that time. 

Howard, the first Black man elected a district attorney in Georgia, said authorities had the opportunity to speak with ten witnesses to the killing. Enhanced surveillance videos were also viewed by authorities, Howard said. 

Although there was a 41-minute discussion between Brooks and the officers, "Mr Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence", Howard said. This is required by the Atlanta Police Department. 

Brooks' fatal encounter with police came after an employee of a Wendy's restaurant in Atlanta phoned authorities to say someone had fallen asleep in his car in the restaurant's drive-through lane last Saturday. 

Rayshard Brooks

Family members of Rayshard Brooks attend a news conference days after Brooks was shot and killed by police at a Wendy's restaurant parking lot in Atlanta. [Ron Harris/AP Photo]  

Atlanta's police chief, Erika Shields, resigned after the shooting last weekend.

Brooks' killing prompted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to state there was a "clear" need to review use of force protocols for the city's police. 

'I got him'

Howard noted that as soon as Brooks was shot, Rolfe said "I got him", which the district attorney said as an "excited utterance" and highly reliable. 

A coroner determined the killing to be a homicide, though this is typically for statistical purposes and not a legal decision. 

Atlanta police shooting of Black man ruled homicide

Rolfe, who is white, was fired, and Brosnan, also white, was put on administrative leave.

Atlanta residents took to the streets after and chanted for the officers in Brooks' case to be criminally charged - at one point late on Saturday blocking traffic on a nearby interstate highway - the Wendy's restaurant went up in flames.

Protests following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis in May, which sparked a worldwide movement against racism and police brutality, have largely been peaceful but have turned violent at times. 

Demands for police reform have become a rallying cry for the movement. 

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