Tuesday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr denied a written request by the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, to reassign two high-profile cases against Atlanta Police officers charged with using excessive force.
Willis argued in a letter that the charges bought forth by her predecessor, Paul Howard, were done with re-election in mind. In her argument, Willis mentioned Carr had asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate whether Howard improperly issued grand jury subpoenas in the June 12th shooting death of Rayshard Brooks:
Carr responded in part:
“While I understand the concerns that you have raised, those concerns relate to a potential violation of a rule of the State Bar of Georgia by your predecessor and a potential criminal investigation of your predecessor. Both appear fairly obviously to be matters that are personal to your predecessor in office and that do not pertain to you or your office. Therefore, from the concerns raised in your letter, it appears abundantly clear that your office is not disqualified from these cases by interest or relationship. This office will not be proceeding to appoint a prosecutor for these cases. In accordance with the constitutional and statutory duties of the district attorney, responsibility for these cases remain with you and your office.”
June 17th, former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard brought murder charges against former Atlanta Police officer Garrett Rolfe for firing the two shots that killed Rayshard Brooks June 12th at a Wendy’s on 125 University Avenue. If convicted of murder, Rolfe could face a maximum sentence of life in prison or death (if the prosecutors choose to seek it).
Willis previously argued:
“My predecessor obtained arrest warrants against the following defendants for incidents that occurred during the campaign,” Willis’s letter states. “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.”
The second case in question involves Taniyah Pilgrim, a Spelman College Student, and her boyfriend Messiah Young, a Morehouse student, who were wrongfully and brutally apprehended during a Black Lives Matter protest on May 30th. Police body camera footage shows officers shouting at the couple, firing Tasers at them, and dragging them from the car.
Sergeant Lonnie Hood was charged with aggravated assault and simple battery. Officer Armon Jones was charged with aggravated battery and pointing a gun. Both men were fired.
Also indicted were Willie Sauls, charged with aggravated assault and criminal damage, and Roland Claud, charged with criminal damage. Claud and Sauls were terminated.
Investigator Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter were the following day but were reinstated after the Atlanta Civil Service Board found numerous violations of city politics and did not protect Gardner’s and Streeter’s due process rights.