Georgia prosecutor asks court to revoke bond for former Atlanta policeman charged with murder

ATLANTA (Reuters) – A Georgia prosecutor has asked a judge to revoke the bond for the former Atlanta policeman charged with murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, saying in court papers that he had violated its terms by taking an out-of-state vacation.

Brooks, a Black man, was fatally shot in June in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta, an incident that was caught on video and set off days of protests over racial inequality and social injustice.

District Attorney Paul Howard asked the court late on Tuesday to send former officer Garrett Rolfe, 27, back to jail for violating the terms of his bond, which include a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and an order that he stays within the court’s jurisdiction.

Rolfe, who was out of jail on $500,000 bond, went to Daytona Beach, Florida, according to the court filing, which cited data from an ankle-monitoring device.

The court papers, filed to Fulton Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick, also say the state received notice from Rolfe’s attorney on Monday that he had traveled to Florida for vacation.

Rolfe’s attorney, Noah Pines, could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

An attorney for Brooks’ family, Chris Stewart, said at a news briefing on Wednesday that he had never heard of someone out on bond being able to take a vacation.

“That is not a flight risk, that is flight,” he said.

No date has been set for a hearing on the prosecutor’s motion to revoke bail.

A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was placed on administrative duty and charged with aggravated assault. The city’s police chief resigned after the incident.

In a separate legal action, Rolfe filed a civil lawsuit against the city and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, contesting his firing from the department. It states that he was not given the benefit of a discipline hearing before he was dismissed.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Bernadette Baum)

Ex-Atlanta policeman charged in Brooks’ death freed from jail, official says

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – The former Atlanta police officer charged in last month’s death of Rayshard Brooks, which touched off days of anti-racism protests, has been released from jail on bail, an official said on Wednesday.

A Georgia County judge on Tuesday set bond for Garrett Rolfe, 27, at $500,000, and added numerous conditions, including that he wears an ankle monitor and obeys a curfew.

Rolfe left Gwinnett County Jail at 12:27 a.m. EDT (0337 GMT) on Wednesday, according to county Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shannon Volkodav.

Representatives for the jail, police, Rolfe and Brooks’ family were not immediately available for comment.

The white policeman is charged with felony murder and 10 other offenses in the shooting of Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, at a Wendy’s parking lot in south Atlanta.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick said she would allow Rolfe to be freed from jail while awaiting trial because she did not believe the former officer was a danger to the community or a flight risk.

Brooks’ June 12 death exacerbated tensions in the United States over police brutality and racism stoked by the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Surveillance and cellphone video of the Atlanta shooting was widely viewed on social media, triggering sometimes-violent demonstrations and the burning of the fast-food restaurant.

At Tuesday’s hearing, before the judge gave her decision, Brooks’ widow Tomika Miller asked the court to deny bond, saying she would not feel safe with the former officer free.

“I say ‘no’ because mentally, I’m not able to handle it. I don’t feel safe with him out there,” she said.

Rolfe’s attorneys have said they intend to present strong evidence asserting he was legally justified in using deadly force because he was acting in self-defense. Rolfe was fired from the police and had been held at the Gwinnett County jail.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Bernadette Baum)

Atlanta officer says not ‘state’s witness’ in Rayshard Brooks case, contradicting prosecutor

By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) – Devin Brosnan, one of the two Atlanta police officers charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, has not agreed to be a witness for the prosecution, his lawyer said on Thursday, contradicting an assertion by the lead prosecutor on the case.

Brosnan turned himself into authorities on Thursday. His lawyer said he would soon be out of custody in an hour or so after processing paperwork.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard had told a news conference on Wednesday that Brosnan had turned “state witness”, agreeing to help prosecute Garrett Rolfe, the other officer charged in the killing of Brooks on June 12.

Rolfe, who shot Brooks in the back with his gun, was charged with felony murder and 10 other charges. Brosnan, who did not discharge his weapon, faces a handful of lesser charges, including aggravated assault and violation of his oath.

The death of Brooks – the latest in a long line of African Americans whose fatal encounters with law enforcement have been documented on video – further heightened U.S. social tensions at a time of national soul searching over police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system.

Howard had highlighted Brosnan’s cooperation as “something remarkable”, adding that the officer had “now become a state’s witness. He has decided to testify on behalf of the state in this case.”

Don Samuel, Brosnan’s lawyer, said that was not true.

While his client had told Howard’s office “everything” during a lengthy interview and would cooperate with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s probe, he had not agreed to be “state’s witness,” the lawyer said.

“Officer Brosnan has not agreed to testify. He has not agreed to plead guilty,” Samuel said in an emailed statement, adding that he “has not agreed to be a ‘state’s witness'”.

Brooks’ killing came amid a storm of protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who perished after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder. Three other Minneapolis policemen were charged with aiding and abetting.

The police encounter with Brooks started out calmly after he was found sleeping in his car at a Wendy’s restaurant drive-through lane in Atlanta. Rolfe and Brosnan administered a sobriety test, after which the situation escalated.

Previously released video of the Brooks appeared to show Brooks grabbing one of the officer’s Taser stun guns and turning and pointing it at Rolfe before being shot. Howard said Thursday that investigators concluded Rolfe knew by then that the Taser had already been fired twice and thus was rendered harmless.

One of the bullets from Rolfe’s gun hit a white Chevy Trailblazer at the Wendy’s, threatening the life of the three passengers inside, according to Howard and the charging documents against the two officers.

One of the car’s passengers, Michael Perkins, told a media briefing on Thursday that he had taken cover in the back seat as the struggle between the officers and Brooks escalated. He said he “smelt gunsmoke” but was unaware the car had taken a bullet until later.

“I almost was killed myself. I feel troubled about it but I’m glad the family is getting the justice it deserves.”

Samuel described the decision to charge his client as “irrational” and politically-motivated. He said Brosnan’s conduct on the night of the shooting was “exemplary” and a “textbook example” of how an officer should approach a situation involving someone inebriated, as Brooks was that night.

While Brosnan did not fire his gun, Howard charged him with aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks’ body after he was shot and for violating his oath of office by not rendering medical aid immediately after he went down.

Samuel said Brosnan, despite suffering a concussion during a tussle with Brooks, rushed to provide medical aid.

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Alistair Bell)