April 14, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Rayshard Brooks shooting: US policeman faces murder charge

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Mr Rolfe conducted a sobriety test on Mr Brooks in the car park

A police officer who fatally shot a fleeing black man in the back last week in Atlanta, Georgia, will be charged with murder and assault, officials say.

Garrett Rolfe, who has already been fired, faces 11 charges related to Rayshard Brooks’ death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

The other officer who was at the scene, Devin Brosnan, plans to testify as a witness in the case, officials said.

The case comes amid US protests over police killings of black Americans.

Lawmakers in Washington are currently debating new police reform laws.

Officer Brosnan – who has already been placed on administrative leave – will be charged with assault for standing on Mr Brooks’ shoulder as he lay dying.

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Police handout

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Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan

Officials said this was the ninth time that an Atlanta police officer had been prosecuted for homicide.

They added that it is believed to be the first time a police officer would testify against a member of his own unit.

What happened?

Mr Brooks failed a field sobriety test on 12 June after he was found asleep inside his car that was blocking a drive-through lane at a Wendy’s restaurant.

After pulling over his vehicle, the father-of-four appeared “slightly impaired, but his behaviour during this incident was almost jovial”, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said on Wednesday.

For over 40 minutes, video shows him complying with officers as he consented to a weapons search and provided them with his identification details.

However, as officers tried to handcuff him, he began struggling. The footage appears to show Mr Brooks punched Mr Rolfe, grabbed Mr Brosnan’s stun gun and turned back while fleeing to fire it at Mr Rolfe.

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Media captionMr Brook’s family call for officers to serve time in jail

Mr Brooks suffered two gunshots to the back that caused organ injuries and blood loss. One police bullet also hit a witness’ vehicle, nearly killing the driver, investigators say.

Video shows Mr Rolfe saying: “I got him.” For over two minutes after Mr Brooks was shot, neither officer provided medical attention as police are required to do, prosecutors said.

Instead, Mr Rolfe kicked Mr Brooks while he was on the ground, and Officer Brosnan stood on Mr Brooks’ shoulder immediately after the shooting, Mr Howard added.

What else did the prosecutor say?

The district attorney said that eight videos from the scene showed Mr Brooks “displayed no aggressive behaviour during the 41 minutes and 17 seconds” that he was questioned, and posed no physical risk to the officers in that time.

Mr Brooks was 18ft (5.5m) from the officers when he was hit twice in the back, investigators say.

“I believe that at the time of the shooting, Mr Brooks did not represent a threat,” Mr Howard said, noting that police rules prohibit firing a Taser at a fleeing suspect.

“So he certainly cannot fire a handgun at someone running away,” he said.

What has the reaction been?

The shooting came amid nationwide unrest over the death in police custody of another unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The four officers involved in Mr Floyd’s arrest have been sacked and are facing charges of second-degree murder, or aiding and abetting murder.

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Rayshard Brooks (undated photo)

The Wendy’s restaurant where Mr Brooks died was burned by arsonists after about 1,000 protesters turned up there in the hours after his death. His death also led to the resignation of Atlanta’s chief of police.

A lawyer for Mr Brosnan disputed the district attorney’s claim that he will serve as a witness, or that he has already admitted to standing on Mr Brooks as he died.

“It’s absolutely untrue,” lawyer Don Samuel told the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper.

“The decision to initiate charges by the Fulton County DA’s office is irrational, unethical and obviously based on factors which should have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice,” he said in a statement. The newspaper added that the prosecutor is facing re-election in August.

A lawyer for Mr Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, told the Associated Press that there were not aware of some of the details announced on Wednesday, such as Mr Rolfe’s alleged kick as Mr Brooks lay dying.

“It’s heartbreaking, but it’s an attempt to redefine justice,” said lawyer L Chris Stewart.

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Media captionThe Wendy’s drive-through restaurant was set on fire over Mr Brooks’ shooting

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