The woman facing first-degree arson charges in the Wendy’s restaurant fire that broke out during protests over Rayshard Brooks’ death in Atlanta appeared in court on Wednesday.
Natalie White, 29, made her first appearance in Fulton County, Georgia, Magistrate Court and did not make a plea. The judge set bond at $10,000 and ordered White to remain under house arrest with an ankle monitor and stay off of social media.
White’s attorney, Drew Findling, argued for a signature bond, citing financial hardships with White’s family. “They just don’t have the funds to make any bond,” Findling said. He argued against house arrest.
Findling said he’s known White since she was a child and indicated that White’s mom, sister and God-mother where sitting behind him.
In previous comments, Findling said his client did not start the June 13 fire.
When asked by CNN whether his client knew Brooks, Findling said, “Yes, but I will not comment on the extent of their relationship.”
Findling said he wanted to keep the focus on what he called the “tragic and unnecessary death of Rayshard Brooks,” whose funeral was held Tuesday.
In body camera video released by police, Brooks can be heard telling the officers who questioned him that Natalie White was his girlfriend.
Protests raged after video posted online
Brooks was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer in the Wendy’s parking lot the night of June 12.
After Brooks failed a sobriety test, he scuffled with officers, grabbed one of their Tasers and was fatally shot as he ran across the parking lot.
Bystander video of the shooting was posted online and sparked protests in the streets around the restaurant.
On the night of June 13, the restaurant was set on fire while crowds of protesters watched.
Tuesday, video showed vehicles in the funeral procession for Brooks making a circle through the parking lot of the burned-out restaurant.
Attorney hopes client is released on her own recognizance
The US Marshals/Fulton County Sheriff’s Fugitive Unit arrested White, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet. Details of the arrest were not immediately available.
A warrant for her arrest was issued a few days ago. Atlanta Fire Rescue tweeted then that White “has been identified as a suspect in the arson fire that burned down the Wendy’s Restaurant (125 University Ave) on Saturday, June 13th.”
Findling said due to concerns over Covid-19, the age and criminal history of his client and the fact that one of the officers in the case was given a signature bond last week, his client should be afforded the same.
The officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, who has since been fired, faces felony murder and other charges. He is being held in jail.
Devin Brosnan, the other officer at the scene of the shooting, was charged with aggravated assault and released on his own recognizance.