ATLANTA – Newly elected Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced this week she would be referring the case charging two Atlanta Police officers in the death of a 27-year-old man to Georgia attorney general Chris Carr’s office.
Last June, Rayshard Brooks was killed by officer Garrett Rolfe, who responded to a disturbance call regarding Brooks asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-thru lane. An altercation ensued over a taser, and Brooks was shot twice in the back. Rolfe was charged with 11 charges including Felony Murder. Another officer was charged with aggravated assault and oath violations.
Willis initially made the decision Monday, wherein she asked that the Brooks case, as well as another controversial use-of-force incident be handled by another prosecutor. She cited conduct of her predecessor, Paul Howard, who had served as DA for 6 terms.
“My predecessor obtained arrest warrants against the following defendants for incidents that occurred during the campaign,” she wrote. “I believe his conduct, including using video evidence in campaign television advertisements, may have violated Georgia Bar Rule 3.8(g). In addition, as you are aware, my predecessor’s conduct also prompted a referral to the GBI for criminal investigation by you his issuance of grand jury subpoenas at a time when no Fulton County Grand Jury was empaneled.”
Mr. Carr’s office now has a few options. He can either assign the case to a different Georgia DA, keep the case for his office, or assign the case to a special prosecutor.
Former DeKalb County DA Robert James was critical of Willis’s decision.
“I don’t really understand how Mr. Howard handled the cases constitutes a conflict,” he said. “When you’re the DA in a big metro county, controversy comes with the job. Sometimes inaction can be just as controversial.”
Chris Stewart, attorney for the Brooks family as well as Taniyah Pilgrim, a college student involved in the excessive force case spoke on the decision.
“We’re shocked,” he said. “The families would have appreciated a meeting with the DA or at least a phone call.”
There is currently no trial date in Brooks case.