Fired Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe and Suspended Officer Devin Brosnan were not arresting Rayshard Brooks because they believed he was an inherent danger to society. He was simply a guy who fell asleep in his car in the Wendy’s Drive thru lane.
Prior to agreeing to take a breathalyzer test, Rayshard asked if he could simply walk to his sister’s nearby home. That would have resolved the situation favorably and peacefully. Experts agree that police officers have a lot of discretion when it comes to arresting a person presumed to have committed a crime, including driving while impaired.
The officers had searched Rayshard and confirmed he did not have a weapon. From that point forward, it was clear that he was unarmed, in their sight at all times, and under their control. As the situation escalated Rayshard Brooks chose both Fight and Flight. He wrestled a Taser from one of the officers and took off running. As reprehensible as that may seem, that only justifies enhanced charges. It does give a police officer the right or authority to end his life.
While chasing Rayshard, Officer Rolfe fired his own taser, threw it to the ground, and unbuckled his gun holster. Thereafter, while running away, Rashard Brooks reached back, blindly, and discharged the taser. Under Georgia law, a Taser is not deemed to be a lethal weapon. Ex-Officer Rolfe immediately drew his gun and fired three shots. Two of the bullets entered Rayshard’s back.
After Mr Brooks fell to the ground, and as he lay there fighting for his life, former Rolfe yelled “I got him,” and kicked him. Then, instead of trying to keep him alive, Officer Devin Brosnan stood on his shoulder. They celebrated their shooting instead of fulfilling their obligation to attempt to save his life.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office classified Rashard Brooks’s manner of death as a homicide. Thus the Prosecutor filed Felony Murder charge and 10 other felony charges against Rolfe.
The job of a police officer is not solely about “Law Enforcement.” It is also about De-Escalation and peaceful resolution, whenever possible.
Whether the victim is a criminal or a model citizen, every instance of Police Transgression is equally egregious. Police are held to a higher standard. It doesn’t matter what a citizen’s background is. It doesn’t matter how much they resisted arrest. It doesn’t matter how heinous their crime. They are entitled to the same Respect, Due Process, and Equal Protection under the Law as any other citizen.
The police should never, under any circumstances, become the “Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Zero Tolerance. Otherwise we slide down another slippery slope. The #METOO Movement prevailed because we the people supported it and were relentless.