May 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Atlanta board reverses firing of officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks

A June 2020 view of the Atlanta Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was shot.

A June 2020 view of the Atlanta Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was shot. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Atlanta Civil Service Board on Wednesday reversed the firing of former police officer Garrett Rolfe, who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, in a Wendy's parking lot last year.

Why it matters: The board said in its decision that the city failed to "comply with several provisions" of the Atlanta City Code and that Rolfe, who had been charged with murder, "was not afforded his right to due process" during his termination.

The board said that its decision has no bearing in determining if Rolfe's actions were criminal.

  • After he was fired last June, Rolfe sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and then-interim police Chief Rodney Bryant, arguing his firing was in violation of the municipal code of the city of Atlanta. He asked to be reinstated with back pay and benefits.

Context: Rolfe and another officer responded to the Wendy's after receiving a report about a man asleep behind the wheel of a car in the drive-thru.

  • The man, who turned out to be Brooks, allegedly failed a field sobriety test. He then struggled with the officers as they attempted to arrest him, according to surveillance video posted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
  • Brooks grabbed one of the officer's stun guns and ran away, and the officers chased him. During the chase, Brooks pointed the stun gun back at the officers before Rolfe shot Brooks twice in the back, according to NBC News.

The big picture: Brooks' death, and its proximity to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, set off a wave of unrest in Atlanta.

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