US: Atlanta police officer charged with murder for shooting African-American man outside restaurant
Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot dead last week.
A police officer in United States’ Atlanta city who shot dead an African-American man in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant last week was charged with murder on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Garrett Rolfe was charged with 11 criminal counts in total, including assault with a deadly weapon and violating his oath of office. He could be sentenced to life imprisonment or even death if convicted.
Rolfe had fatally shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks while trying to arrest him after he failed a sobriety test. Brooks first complied with the officers for almost 42 minutes, but struggled when they finally tried to handcuff him. The video from the site of the incident showed Brooks struggling with two officers on the ground outside the restaurant. He then broke free and ran across the parking lot, apparently with a non-lethal Taser gun in his hand. In another video footage from the restaurant’s security cameras, Brooks was seen being shot by Rolfe and falling to the ground, after he possibly aimed the Taser at him. He was taken to a hospital but died after surgery.
At a press conference, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Brooks was running away from the officers and was more than five metres away when Rolfe shot him in the back twice. One of the bullets pierced Brooks’ heart. He added that the officer kicked Brooks as he lay on the ground.
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After shooting Brooks, Rolfe exclaimed “I got him,” the district attorney said, citing cellphone footage submitted by witnesses and body camera videos from the police.
Howard said that Brooks did not present himself as a threat at any point and displayed no aggressive behavior towards the policemen. He added that Brooks was “almost jovial” and cooperated with the police.
Devin Brosnan, the second officer, admitted that he stood on Brooks’ shoulders as he was dying. He was charged with aggravated assault and violations of his oath of office. He has also agreed to testify against his colleague.
Brooks killing triggered fresh protests in the US, even as fury continues over George Floyd’s murder last month. Protestors blocked traffic at the Interstate-75 highway, prompting the police to use squad cars to control them. Several others set fire to the restaurant where Brooks was killed. Atlanta’s police chief stepped down after the incident.