Garret Rolfe, the police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. According to prosecutors, Rolfe faces a possible life sentence without parole for murder.
An arrest warrant was issued for the former Atlanta police officer. Rolfe was charged alongside Devin Brosnan, the second officer on the scene of the fatal shooting.
Brosnan faces an aggravated assault charge for allegedly standing on Brooks’ shoulders in the parking lot. The two have until Thursday evening to turn themselves in, CNN reports.
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Brooks, 27, was fatally shot by Rolfe last Friday during an altercation. Video footage of the incident shows Brooks got into a physical altercation with two police officers who were attempting to arrest him for DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
Brooks, who attempted running away after breaking free and grabbing one of the officers’ Taser, was fatally shot twice in the back, later succumbing to his injuries in a hospital.
His death sparked protests in Atlanta, with people condemning the officers’ use of excessive and deadly force, and also reignited the current Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, which have been ongoing for weeks after the death of George Floyd.
“Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul L Howard Jr said. “After he was shot, for some two minutes and 12 seconds, no medical assistance.”
Death ruled as homicide
Following an autopsy, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the manner of Brooks’ death as “homicide”, saying the deceased sustained organ damage and blood loss as a result of the gunshot wounds.
Speaking to CNN, Howard said Rolfe could face murder, felony murder or involuntary manslaughter charges.
“But I believe in this instance, what we have to choose between, if there’s a choice to be made, is between murder and felony murder,” Howard said.
Brooks’ fatal shooting sparked protests in Atlanta, with the Wendy’s where the incident occurred being set ablaze.
Following the fire, authorities announced they are offering a $10,000 reward for information on the people who started it, releasing the photos of one of the suspects, who appears to be a white woman.
“If the officer had been a bit more empathetic and a bit less scared, we probably wouldn’t have a dead client,” he said, according to CNN.
Brooks left behind a wife and four children.
According to Rolfe’s attorneys, he was reacting to what he thought was 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,” they said in a statement.
Brooks’ family attorney, L. Chris Stewart, said the shooting was unjustified.