Paul Howard, the District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, has charged Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder in the death of Rayshard Brooks. Felony murder could get the death penalty.
There are some details you may not be aware of.
First, Paul Howard is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for allegations that Howard has supplemented his income inappropriately through a non-profit.
Second, as a result of the investigation, Howard is fighting for his political life. He is currently struggling in a runoff election to keep his job. As a result, Howard is playing up the situation to help him win.
Third, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is required to conduct an investigation of any officer-involved shooting. That investigation has not yet concluded, the report has not been written, and the District Attorney did not consult with or seek advice from the GBI prior to filing charges. That is highly, highly unusual.
Two weeks ago, two black police officers smashed the windows of a vehicle and tasered the black college students in the vehicle. The students did not obey orders to stop during the Atlanta protests that had turned violent. The Mayor of Atlanta fired the officers and Paul Howard charged them on the grounds that they had discharged “deadly weapons.” I intentionally mention the races of the parties involved because one of the allegations made against the officers is that they participated in white supremacy culture.
Yesterday, in indicting Officer Rolfe, Howard claimed a taser was not a deadly weapon and Officer Rolfe should, therefore, not have fired his weapon after Brooks tried to shoot Rolfe with the taser.
Additionally, at the press conference, Howard claimed Rolfe’s partner, Officer Bosnan, would plead guilty and be a witness for the prosecution against Rolfe. Bosnan’s lawyer denies all of that. Bosnan’s lawyer says there will be no guilty plea and no cooperation with the state.
As a result of Howard’s actions, overnight members of Atlanta’s police department began abandoning their posts. It was not an organized walkout across the department, but in various precincts of the city the police stopped responding to calls or did not show up for their shifts.
Howard’s actions are political grandstanding on the backs of these police officers.