The officer accused of killing Rayshard Brooks was moved from a jail to a different facility in Atlanta over security concerns hours before he was scheduled to appear in court Friday.
Garrett Rolfe was terminated as an Atlanta police officer following the shooting at a Wendy’s drive-through last week. He faces felony murder and 10 other charges in Brooks’ death, which reignited a wave of protests nationwide against police brutality.
Rolfe was moved from the Fulton County Jail to another facility in metro Atlanta for security reasons, three law enforcement sources told CNN. He turned himself in Thursday and is being held without bond.
Rolfe waived his right to a first appearance in court Friday. His attorneys were still expected to appear before a judge for him Friday afternoon.
The second officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, faces an aggravated assault charge for allegedly standing on Brooks’ shoulders as he lay dying in the parking lot.
Officer says he has faith in the justice system
Both officers had gone to the fast food restaurant to respond to a complaint that Brooks, 27, was parked and asleep in the drive-through lane. He failed a sobriety test, and when they tried to arrest him, he scuffled with them and grabbed Brosnan’s Taser, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.
A video of the incident shows Brooks running as he appears to point the Taser in the direction of Rolfe, who shoots him twice in the back.
Attorneys for both men issued forceful statements defending their clients’ actions that night. In an interview with MSNBC, Brosnan said he has “full faith” in the criminal justice system.
“I think this is a tragic event and it’s … a total tragedy that a man had to lose his life that night,” he said. “My initial encounter with him, I felt he was friendly. He was respectful … He seemed like someone who potentially needed my help. I was really just there to see what I could do for him, make sure he was safe.”
Brosnan’s attorneys criticized the rush to charge their client, saying he briefly put his foot on Brooks’ arm to make sure he did not access a weapon. They said he also performed CPR, put anticoagulant in Brooks’ wounds and applied compression bandages.
He has cooperated with all investigators and plans to meet with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation next week. But his lawyer Don Samuel said Brosnan is not going to answer the district attorney’s questions while they bring false charges against him.
In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday night, the district attorney reiterated that he expects Brosnan to cooperate with prosecutors.
“I realize that this young man is … getting a lot of pressure from a lot of groups and some of his colleagues,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. “My expectation is when we move to the next level, I would expect him to follow through with what he has already promised.”
Brosnan also faces two counts of violation of oath of office. He was released on a signature bond after turning himself in Thursday.
Some officers refuse to leave precinct
If convicted of felony murder, Rolfe could face death. But Howard said he will not seek capital punishment.
He also faces five counts of aggravated assault, four counts of violating his oath of office and one count of criminal damage to property.
Prosecutors have said he kicked Brooks as he lay on the ground fighting for his life. But his attorneys have demanded to see a video of him doing that — not just the still photo released by Howard.
“If there was a video of my client kicking Mr. Brooks, you would have seen it,” attorney Lance LoRusso told Fox News. “(Howard) shows a still, and one leg is planted and the other one’s bent. He could be leaning down to try to give him first aid. It could have been when he was trying to evaluate whether he needed handcuffs.”
Rolfe reacted after he thought he “heard a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him,” and feared for his safety and that of the civilians around him, his attorneys said.
Brooks’ family applauded the charges against the officers as a good first step, but said they don’t guarantee a conviction.
“This is not the finish line. This is the starting point. Yes, we appreciate and we commend the DA’s office for charging these officers appropriately, but that’s just step one,” attorney Justin Miller said. “As you know, that doesn’t always result in convictions.”
Since the charges, many officers in one of Atlanta’s six police zones have not shown up for work, according to police officers who don’t want to be named.
The department denied it, but a police union director backed the accounts by CNN sources. In some instances, officers were refusing to leave their precincts unless a fellow police officer required backup.