Prosecutor: Officer kicked Rayshard Brooks after shooting
ATLANTA (AP) - When Rayshard Brooks was dying in Wendy's parking lot, prosecutors said the Atlanta policeman who shot him in the back kicked him and left him with no medical care for more than two minutes.
Rolfe, who is white, shot Brooks after the 27-year-old black man grabbed a taser and ran and shot the policeman, the prosecutor said. But when the officer fired his gun, Brooks was too far ahead of him to pose a threat, and he had been fired twice, so it was empty and no longer a threat, Howard said.
"I have him!" Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard quoted officer Garrett Rolfe.
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On Wednesday, the prosecutor announced a murder charge against Rolfe and a serious assault against a second officer, Devin Brosnan, who, according to prosecutors, was on Brooks shoulder when he was fighting for his life.
The law enforcement decision came less than five days after the murder shook a city - and a nation - that had collapsed under a Minneapolis policeman's knee at the end of last month after George Floyd's death.
Rolfe's lawyers said he was afraid for the safety of himself and others and was entitled to shoot Brooks. Rolfe apparently opened the fire after hearing a sound "like a shot and a flash in front of him" from the taser.
"Mr. Brooks violently attacked and disarmed two officers. When Mr. Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, each officer would reasonably have thought he was going to disarm, deactivate, or seriously injure him," the lawyers said an explanation.
The prosecutor said Brooks "never posed a threat" during more than 40 minutes of interaction with officials before the shootout. An official found him asleep behind the wheel of his car in the restaurant passage, and a breath test showed that he was drunk.
"Mister. Brooks was calm on the night of this incident, he was warm and genuinely cooperative," said Howard.
The indictment reflects a possible "fundamental change" in tolerance to police violence, said Caren Morrison, a law professor at Georgia State University who was formerly a federal attorney in New York.
"If they got a conviction, they would say that policing as we know it needs to change," she said. "I don't think that would have been charged five years ago."
Morrison said the current view has been that officials are authorized to use lethal force if the suspect has a stun gun or other weapon that could cause "serious physical injury".
The Atlanta Police Department tweeted late Wednesday that more officers than normal had called, but that "it had enough resources to continue operations and respond to incidents".
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on CNN that many of the department's partners had been notified if they needed to call others. She said the real test would come on Thursday.
"If we have officers who don't want bad officers to be removed from the force, that's another conversation we have to have," said Bottoms.
The 27-year-old Rolfe's crime murder charge results in life in prison or the death penalty if the prosecutor decides to request it. He was also charged with ten other crimes that were punished for decades behind bars.
The prosecutor said Brosnan, 26, is cooperating with prosecutors and will testify. But one of his lawyers, Amanda Clark Palmer, denied this and said Brosnan had pleaded not guilty.
Clark Palmer said the charge was unfounded and Brosnan was on Brook's hand for seconds, not on his shoulder, to make sure he had no gun.
A lawyer for the Brooks widow warned that the indictment was no cause for rejoicing.
"We shouldn't have to celebrate as African-Americans when we get a piece of justice like today. We shouldn't have to celebrate and move when an officer is held accountable," said lawyer L. Chris Stewart.
Brooks' widow, Tomika Miller, said it was painful to hear the new details about what had happened to her husband in his last few minutes.
"I felt everything he felt only when I heard what he was going through and it hurt. It hurt a lot, ”she said.
The news came when the Republicans on Capitol Hill unveiled a package of police reform measures and the states got rid of the Confederate monuments and other racially insulting symbols.
Brooks' murder on Friday evening sparked new demonstrations against police brutality in the Georgian capital after occasional turbulent protests against Floyd's death had largely subsided.
Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned less than 24 hours after Brooks' death and Wendy's restaurant was burned down. Rolfe was released while Brosnan was placed on the desk.
The police had been called to the restaurant for complaints about a car blocking the passage lane. The police body camera video showed Brooks and officers having a relatively calm and respectful conversation before things quickly got violent when officers tried to handcuff him. Brooks wrestled with officers, grabbed one of their stun guns, and fired it on one of them as he ran through the parking lot.
An autopsy revealed that he was shot twice in the back. A shot hit his heart, said the prosecutor. At least one bullet went into a vehicle that was waiting in line as it passed.
The prosecutor said Rolfe and Brosnan had until 6:00 p.m. Thursday for surrender. He said he would request a $ 50,000 bail for Brosnan and no bail for Rolfe.
A new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research says that more Americans today than five years ago believe that police brutality is a very serious problem that is too often undisciplined and unevenly attacking black Americans.
In the Minneapolis case, Derek Chauvin, the policeman who had kneeled on Floyd's neck for a few minutes, was charged with murder. Three other officials were indicted for aid. All four were released and held in prison for up to 40 years.
Associate Press Writer Sudhin Thanawala; Matt Ott in New York; Lisa Mascaro and Jim Mustian in Washington; and Russ Bynum of Savannah, Georgia contributed to this report.
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