Aug 23, 2022 - News

Prosecutors to drop charges in Rayshard Brooks shooting death

other Shenita Binns holds a sign with daughter Ysrael Binns on the anniversary of the killing of Rayshard Brooks to honor his life and to demand justice on June 12, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mother Shenita Binns holds a sign with daughter Ysrael Binns on the anniversary of the killing of Rayshard Brooks to honor his life and to demand justice on June 12, 2021. Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Prosecutors have declined to pursue charges against two Atlanta officers in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.

Why it matters: Brooks was shot and killed June 12, 2020, after an altercation with Atlanta officers Devin Brosnan and Garrett Rolfe in the parking lot of a Wendy's on University Avenue.

  • Brooks' killing occurred weeks after global protests erupted in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
  • Prosecutors acknowledged the similarity in the timing of the two incidents, but noted they were two separate situations.

What they're saying: Pete Skandalakis, the special prosecutor and former Coweta Judicial Circuit district attorney overseeing the case, said at a press conference that prosecutors have to look at the situation through what the officers were experiencing in the heat of the moment — not what they would have done in hindsight.

  • He also said that he understands that Brooks' widow would be upset, but "the result is the right one based upon law and facts."
  • "As prosecutors, we are guided by the law and the facts, and that's what we did," Skandalakis said.

Danny Porter, the former Gwinnett County District Attorney who Skandalakis brought on to help with the case, said after reviewing body camera footage and other video of the fatal encounter, "I think the officers would have had reasonably believed he was an immediate threat" to them.

The Atlanta Police Department said in a statement that both officers are still employed with the department, but are on administrative duty.

  • They will undergo Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council re-certification and training.
  • "We have faith in the criminal justice system, and we respect the special prosecutor’s decision in this case," the department said.

Catch up quick: Officers were dispatched to the restaurant after receiving a call of a motorist blocking the drive-thru traffic.

  • Officers responded and found Brooks asleep at the wheel, prosecutors said. Police said Brooks failed a sobriety test, and a struggle broke out after officers tried to arrested him.
  • Porter said Brooks overpowered both officers and “brought them to the ground."
  • Brooks ran away from the altercation and according to surveillance video shared by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Brooks turned back and aimed the taser towards the officers.
  • Brooks was shot in the back by one of the officers. He later died at the hospital.

The fallout: Brooks' shooting led to protests at the Wendy's, which was burned to the ground during the demonstrations. Three people were later charged with arson.

  • Rolfe was fired following the shooting, but was later reinstated by the city's Civil Service Board.
  • Former police chief Erika Shields resigned less than a day following the shooting.

The intrigue: Former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard filed several criminal charges against both officers, with Rolfe charged with felony murder and Brosnan facing two additional charges.

  • In January 2021, newly elected Fulton district attorney Fani Willis asks to recuse herself from the case. Attorney General Chris Carr refused, but a Fulton County Superior Court judge granted the request. Carr later appointed Skandalakis as a special prosecutor.

Of note: Mayor Andre Dickens said the city and police department have listened to residents and implemented reforms, such as enhancing training to de-escalate encounters.

  • "We must maintain our commitment to the work of creating safe communities through collaboration between police and the people they serve," he said.

Return to Axios for updates.

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