ATLANTA - Former Atlanta police officer turned murder suspect, Garrett Rolfe waived his first court appearance Friday before a judge.
Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan face charges in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. Rolfe's hearing was scheduled for noon at the Fulton County Jail. Rolfe’s new attorneys, Noah Pines and Bill Thomas did not make an appearance either but Pines said Tuesday's bond hearing was his top priority.
Despite, growing protests at the Wendy's and calls for the Fulton County DA to charge the two officers, Pines said Rolfe has gotten lots of community support as well. The Georgia Law Enforcement Organization has raised a quarter of a million dollars for Rolfe and Devin Brosnan who is also charged with aggravated assault and violation of oath of office in the case.
Brooks, 27, was shot and killed the night of June 12 outside a Wendy's restaurant along University Avenue in southeast Atlanta. The officers were called over complaints of a car blocking the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. A struggle ensued between Brooks and the officers when they attempted to handcuff him, dashcam video showed. In the struggle, Brooks grabbed a Taser and ran, firing it at the officer, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. Shots were fired at Brooks as he was running away, surveillance video from the Wendy's showed.
Rayshard Brooks, 27 (Photo: Family).
An autopsy revealed Brooks was shot twice in the back.
Rolfe, the officer who pulled the trigger, faces 11 charges, including felony murder and multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The felony murder charge against Rolfe, 27, carries life in prison or the death penalty if prosecutors decide to seek it.
Garrett Rolfe (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)
Brosnan faces aggravated assault and three counts of violation of oath of office. He was in and out of the jail in two hours, after posting a $50,000 signature bond.
Officer Devin Brosnan faces charges in connection to the shooting death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks (Fulton County Sheriff's Office).
The pair turned themselves in Thursday to the Fulton County Jail. Rolfe was later transferred to the Gwinnett County Adult Detention Center, a common practice for law enforcement officers who are arrested.
Prosecutors allege Brooks was stepped on as he lay dying and that he posed no threat.
“We’ve concluded at the time that Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said.
Rolfe's attorney said that while Brooks' death was tragic, his client's actions were justified.
"Mr. Brooks chose to attack two officers, to disarm one of them, and to point and fire a deadly weapon at Officer Rolfe, he took their lives, and his own, into his hands. He took the risk that their justified response might be a deadly one. Nobody is here to applaud the death of Mr. Brooks. He was a father, he was a member of his community, and his death was a tragedy. But not every tragedy is a crime," defense attorney Noah Pines said.
The charges reflect a potential “sea change” in tolerance for violence by police, said Caren Morrison, a Georgia State University law professor who used to be a federal prosecutor.
Morrison said the view until now has generally been that officers are justified in using deadly force in a case in which the suspect had a stun gun or other weapon that could cause “grievous bodily harm.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has promised reforms in the police department following Brooks' death.