DA says he was 'just doing his job' by charging officers in death of Rayshard Brooks
As a district attorney from Fulton County, Georgia, Paul L. Howard Jr. says he attends many funerals.
At the invitation of the Brooks family, Howard attended the Rayshard Brooks funeral on Tuesday, which was held by four children just one day after Father's Day in honor of the late father.
In an interview with ABC News, Howard said seeing the Brooks family at church "increased the pain" he felt when he saw the video of Brooks' death.
Brooks was killed by police on June 12 in a Wendy parking lot in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Based on our investigation, I have had the opportunity to observe an exceptional exchange between him and two police officers, and it is almost as if you could learn something about him and his life by just taking those 41 minutes or so so I wanted to honor his death, "said Howard.
MORE: MLK's daughter shares the message with Rayshard Brooks' children at the funeral
Howard continues to be criticized by lawmakers and the police union representing Atlanta police officers for deciding last week to charge former Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan officials for Brooks' death. But Howard said he was "just doing his job".
"What we're doing is looking at the evidence. In this case, we had the evidence before us. And my philosophy is that we should move," Howard told ABC News. "If we had talked about a civilian who shot someone, I have never heard anyone say that we quickly accused or accused civilians. It is strange that people only talk about it quickly when you talk about a police officer I think that's one of the things we have to change in this country. "
Howard said that his decision to indict the officials was not a political one. He referred to the first police case that his office followed in 2002. In this case, it was a 19-year-old black man who was killed while sitting by the police, a car belonging to his mother that an officer believed was stolen. "Every case we dealt with, they said, it's political, every case," he said.
PHOTO: Fulton's District Attorney, Paul L. Howard Jr., speaks during a press conference, indicting Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, in the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia on June 17, 2020 will be announced via Shutterstock)
Howard also defended himself against criticism that he had charged the officials before the Georgia Bureau of Investigations ended his investigation. He said his office "had enough evidence to move" and was under no legal obligation to "wait for someone".
He further questioned the criticism and found that the GBI is a state police office. "I think people are suggesting that we wait for the police to tell us how they have examined themselves. I don't think the law works that way. We are independent. We have made an independent decision and we will appreciate." get in touch when they bring it to us, "Howard said.
Howard's office continues to expand its own investigation and is preparing for a Rolfe hearing scheduled for next Tuesday. He told ABC News that he did not expect the grand jury to meet until October 1 in this case.
His office does not plan to impose the most severe sentence on Rolfe for the crime of murder. "We haven't even gotten far enough to think about what kind of sentence we're asking," said Howard.
In the meantime, both Rolfe, through his team of lawyers, and Brosnan have denied the allegations against them, including helping Brooks too late after he was shot. Howard said he charged the officers with videotapes. "In a case where someone has been shot in the back twice, it is very important that medical help is given immediately and I know that people will say that you have shot in the heart and that means you can't survive. It doesn't. " That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, "he said.
Howard believes the officials broke the rules when they didn't immediately try to keep Brooks alive.
MORE: The Atlanta police officer shot after Rayshard Brook's death during the confrontation at Wendy's transit
Howard has also been criticized for tracing whether a taser is a deadly weapon, which he decided in the recent college student Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young's tasing incident, but doesn't appear to decide the same thing in this case. "You know what they seem to be saying: 'Mr. Howard, if you are not perfect, or if you have made a mistake, you have to endure it now," said Howard. He called the criticism "nonsense" and a shame for Mr. Brooks. "First of all, Mr. Brooks, when he was shot, he ran away and turned. He didn't fire a taser. So why people are dealing with this imaginary argument about a taser, I'm not really sure," he said.
Howard claimed that the taser had nothing to do with Brook's death. "He was about 18 feet, 3 inches from the officer when he shot him. And I would just ask people to use their common sense. And if you did, you probably wouldn't be talking about a taser." he added.
Howard had a particular problem with the officers' actions after Brooks was gunned down. For one thing, he said Rolfe kicked Brooks. Brosnan meanwhile admitted that he was standing on Brooks shoulder because he thought he was still a threat.
MORE: Video: Thousands mourn Rayshard Brooks at the funeral
"Number one, you don't shoot a man in the back. You know, it is the immediate sign of a coward if you shoot a man in the back. But if you do that when a man is already down, you know, Even if You hunt an animal, if you hunt a deer, when the deer is down, don't go over and then kick and stand on it, "Howard said.
"So when people talk to me about Taser and how quickly you're done, I say to them, 'Did you see the insult to humanity?'" Said Howard. "'What will we do about it?' And I think these little kids on the streets are trying to tell people, "When will you pay attention to what's really going on?"
Howard has a long list of policy proposals to respond to protesters' outcry over a change in police work. He believes that the nation should require that all criminal misconduct be investigated independently of a police department that is separate from the department involved in the misconduct. In addition, Howard would like to see prosecutors as "gatekeepers" to the criminal justice system, who are empowered to indict police officers over the death of a civilian without the involvement of a large jury.
PHOTO: Frame grab from police camera footage of the arrest of Rayshard Brookes by the Atlanta police on June 13, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department via Reuters)
He believes that there should be a national law that requires any police officer, whether state or state involved in the arrest of a person or in contact with civilians, to wear and operate a body camera and use dash cameras. He also believes that an independent federal agency should be created to deal with police shootings and data collection. This agency would maintain a nationwide database of officers involved in police misconduct and the use of incidents of violence, develop and provide training standards and programs, reward police officers and communities that practice and honor de-escalation with increases and incentives and provide a path for Citizens appeal against the decision of the local prosecutor's office not to indict or prosecute any cases. This authority would be authorized to prosecute state cases before a federal court.
In addition to policy reform, Howard argued that there must also be a cultural shift. It starts with what he called the "thin blue line" - the lack of officers willing to speak out against their colleagues.
"I often hear people say, 'Well, there are some good cops, some bad, some bad, but everyone else is good.' And here I ask people all the time: 'Well, people, when was the last time you heard about these good officers who testify or complain about the bad officers?' ", He said.
MORE: The ex-officer's lawyer who killed Rayshard Brooks says the DA investigation is not credible
Howard believes that the behavior of police unions and their importance to the police force and the average citizen must also be examined.
"There is a culture that has evolved. If we do not change that culture, the result we will achieve will continue to be the same," he added. But until this change arrives, he hopes that Atlanta's young people will continue to put pressure on the system.
"I hope we can change. I hope people say this is too much," said Howard. "As an African American, my feeling is why we haven't stopped because the deaths are mostly African American deaths - and until we accept the fact that we are not treated equally as citizens of this country, we will continue to do so." make these mistakes. "
DA says he "only did his job" by accusing officials of the death of Rayshard Brooks, who originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
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