Attorneys issue joint statement about special prosecutors in two high-profile APD officer cases

Officer Garrett Rolfe gives Rayshard Brooks a sobriety test moments before his deadly shooting in southwest Atlanta on June 12, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department)

Attorneys for the family of Rayshard Brooks and college students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young issued a joint statement on Thursday, the day after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office named special prosecutors in two high-profile criminal cases against Atlanta police officers.

Peter Skandalakis, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, was appointed to prosecute two officers in the deadly shooting of Rayshard Brooks and Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel was appointed to prosecute the six officers arrested for pulling two college students from a car after curfew during protests last summer, the AG's office announced on Wednesday.

A judge last month granted a request by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to recuse herself from the cases.

Willis, who took office in January, had argued that actions by her predecessor, Paul Howard, made it inappropriate for her office to handle the prosecutions. She had asked a judge to determine who should handle the case after Carr twice rejected her requests to recuse herself.

Howard announced charges in both cases less than a week after the incidents. At the time, Howard was fighting to keep his job amid a Democratic primary challenge from Willis.

Wednesday's joint statement reads:

"We recently learned of Attorney General Chris Carr’s decision to appoint Pete Skandalakis as a special prosecutor to try the case of the Atlanta police officers responsible for Rayshard Brooks' death and Samir Patel, who will prosecute officers who tased and injured college students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young.

"While we were disappointed that it took so long to get to this point, we are cautiously optimistic that these officers will finally face a jury of their peers and be forced to defend their actions.

"The family of Rayshard Brooks as well as Taniyah Pilgrim, Messiah Young and their families have been through so much while they watched this process unnecessarily drag on. The time for talking is over. It's now time for action. We look forward to a vigorous prosecution of these Atlanta police officers."

L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller are representing the family of Rayshard Brooks and college student Taniyah Pilgrim and Mawuli Mel Davis is representing college student Messiah Young.

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