Ex-officer faces felony murder charge in shooting death of Rayshard Brooks: DA

Stelsone/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(ATLANTA) -- A former Atlanta police officer is facing charges including felony murder and aggravated assault after fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot last week, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Brooks, a black man, "was running away at the time that the shot was fired" by Officer Garrett Rolfe, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. said.

"At the time Mr. Brooks was shot," Howard said, "he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury."

At the time the shot was fired, Rolfe made an "excited utterance," and said, "I got him," Howard said.

Rolfe has since been fired.

If convicted of felony murder, the former officer could face the death penalty, Howard said.

The second officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative leave.

Brosnan has since decided to testify on behalf of the state, Howard said.

Prosecutors have spoken with multiple witnesses, consulted with a Taser expert, looked at physical evidence and viewed surveillance video, dashboard camera and witness cellphone video, Howard said.

Howard said he concluded that Rolfe was aware that the Taser Brooks was holding had been fired twice. Howard explained, "Once it's fired twice, it presented no danger to him or to any other person."

After Brooks was shot, Rolfe "kicked Mr. Brooks while he laid on the ground, while he was there fighting for his life," Howard said. "Secondly, from the videotape, we were able to see that the other officer, Brosnan, actually stood on Mr. Brooks' shoulders while he was there struggling for his life."

Brosnan faces two charges of violations of oath and a charge of aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks' shoulder, the district attorney said.

Brooks, a 27-year-old husband, father and stepfather, was fatally shot on Friday. His death sparked an arson fire, new protests, an investigation and the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.

Brooks was killed after officers were called to a Wendy's parking lot after receiving reports of a man, later identified as Brooks, asleep in his car. Police gave Brooks a Breathalyzer test, which registered a blood-alcohol level of .108%, above the legal limit of .08%.

Brooks was "calm," "cordial" and "displayed a cooperative nature" when speaking with the police officers, Howard said.

When officers tried to place him in handcuffs, Brooks began to struggle and wrestled with both officers on the ground, grabbing an officer's stun gun.

Surveillance video showed Brooks running through the parking lot with the officers behind him. At one point, Brooks turned and allegedly shot the stun gun at an officer, who drew his weapon and opened fire.

Brooks died from two gunshots to his back, the medical examiner determined.

After Brooks was shot, medical attention wasn't provided for 2 minutes and 12 seconds, Howard said.

"The demeanor of the officers immediately after the shooting did not reflect any fear or danger of Mr. Brooks, but their actions really reflected other kinds of emotions," Howard said.

Howard said his office is asking Rolfe and Brosnan to surrender by 6 p.m. Thursday.

Prosecutors are asking the court to grant a bond of $50,000 for Brosnan, said Howard. No bond is recommended for Rolfe, he said.

Brooks' wife, Tomika Miller, told ABC News on Sunday that she wanted to see both officers arrested and the officer who was placed on administrative duty terminated.

"They don't need to be responding with guns and Tasers and things like that to a guy, sleeping in a parking lot situation," an attorney for Brooks' family, L. Chris Stewart, told ABC News on Sunday. "There needs to be a certain branch of police departments that handle stuff like that."

"That's how these situations escalate. They need to not be over policing, inner-city communities for minor stuff like this," he said.

In a statement on Wednesday, attorneys for the officers said "Mr. Brooks chose to violently attack two uniformed police officers."

The officers "attempted to leverage him to the ground while giving him loud, clear verbal commands ... in response, Mr. Brooks continued actively resisting lawful efforts to arrest him," the attorneys said. "He then escalated his resistance by punching Officer Rolfe in the face."

"Mr. Brooks continued his assault and disarmed Officer Brosnan, stealing his city-issued TASER," the attorneys said. "Instead of merely trying to escape, Mr. Brooks reached back with his arm extended and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe. Officer Rolfe heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him. Fearing for his safety, and the safety of the civilians around him, Officer Rolfe dropped his taser and fired his service weapon at the only portion of Mr. Brooks that presented to him - Mr. Brooks’ back."

The attorneys say Rolfe's actions were justified under the law.

"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," they said.

Miller, now a single black mother, said she feels "like I'm just a statistic."

"Now I'm by myself taking care of four children," she said. "This was not a choice -- they forced this on me by taking my husband away, by taking my family."

"No justice will ever get that back," she added.

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