A specially appointed prosecutor said Tuesday that he will not pursue any charges against the Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks more than two years ago.
Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, announced that he won’t pursue charges against Garrett Rolfe, the white officer who shot and killed the 27-year-old Black man in June 2020.
Skandalakis was appointed last year to take over the case after a judge allowed Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to recuse herself and her office. Willis had cited concerns about the actions of her predecessor, Paul Howard, who announced a murder charge against Rolfe less than a week after the shooting.
Police responded on June 12, 2020 to complaints of a man sleeping in a car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s restaurant. Police body camera video shows the two officers having a calm conversation with Brooks for more than 40 minutes. Then, when the officers told Brooks he’d had too much to drink to be driving and tried to arrest him, Brooks resisted in a struggle caught on dash camera video. Brooks grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and fled, firing it at Rolfe as he ran. Rolfe fired his gun, and an autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.
The two officers’ lawyers have said their actions were justified and both were released on bond.
The shooting happened against the backdrop of heightened tensions and protests nationwide in wake of the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis less than three weeks earlier.
Sometimes-violent protests over Floyd’s death had largely subsided in Atlanta, but Brooks’ killing set off a new round of demonstrations against police brutality. Police Chief Erika Shields resigned less than 24 hours after Brooks died. Protesters set fire to the Wendy’s restaurant, which was later demolished.
Rolfe was fired a day after the shooting, but his dismissal was overturned in May 2021 by the Atlanta Civil Service Board. The board found that the city failed to follow its own procedures for disciplinary actions.
Five days after Brooks was killed, then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard held a dramatic news conference to announce charges against Rolfe and Brosnan. Rolfe’s charges included felony murder, aggravated assault and violation of his oath. Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath.
Two months later, Howard lost the Democratic primary in his bid for re-election. Just weeks after taking office in January 2021, his successor, Fani Willis, asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to reassign the case.
Willis, who has since gained national attention for her investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia, cited concerns about Howard’s actions.
Howard’s conduct, “including using video evidence in campaign television advertisements,” may have violated Georgia Bar rules, Willis argued in a letter to Carr. She also noted that Carr had asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into whether Howard improperly issued grand jury subpoenas in the Rolfe case. Howard has denied wrongdoing.
Noah Pines, an attorney for Rolfe, had also filed a motion to disqualify the Fulton County district attorney’s office from the case.
Carr initially refused to reassign the case, but in July 2021 appointed Skandalakis to take it over after Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher found there was a conflict of interest and granted a request from Willis to recuse her office.