Press Release for State of Georgia v. Devin Brosnan and Garrett Rolfe
After a thorough review of the evidence, including witness statements, scientific reports, Atlanta Police Department Use of Force Policies, expert analysis of the audio and video available from the incident, and expert analysis regarding human performance from the professionals of Force Science, and applying the facts of this case to the applicable law, the State of Georgia will not be pursuing criminal charges against Officer Devin Brosnan and Officer Garrett Rolfe.
The law in Georgia and as established by the Federal District Courts and the United States Supreme Court is clear. When examining cases such as the one before us, prosecutors must consider the incident from the “perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with 20/20 vision of hindsight” Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)
In this case we have a routine arrest which, in a split second, became a violent fight initiated by Mr. Rayshard Brooks for reasons known only to him. For 40+ minutes the encounter between Mr. Brooks and Officers Brosnan and Rolfe was cordial and uneventful. Only when it was obvious that Brooks was not in any condition to operate a motor vehicle and the officers sought to place him under arrest did the encounter become violent at the hands of Mr. Brooks.
Mr. Brooks overpowered both officers, twice managed to throw Officer Rolfe away from him, took Officer Brosnan’s TASER from him, fired the TASER once at Officer Rolfe and a second time, at point blank range, towards Officer Brosnan’s head, and then fled the scene with Officer Brosnan’s TASER in his hand. When Mr. Brooks aimed and discharged the TASER at a pursuing Officer Rolfe, it was during this brief moment that Rolfe made the decision to pull his gun and fire.
In the case before us, Mr. Brooks had committed multiple felonies against two officers who were making a lawful arrest. He forcibly took Officer Brosnan’s TASER, “an instrument when used offensively against another is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death” O.C.G.A. 16-5-21. Mr. Brooks had used the TASER against both officers and posed a serious and immediate threat to the officers and the public.
Furthermore, after the incident, a search of the car Mr. Brooks was driving found white pills which were tested at the GBI Crime lab. The pills tested positive for methamphetamine; and positive for Eutylone; an alternative to MDMA and Ecstasy.
The GBI crime lab scientists also tested Mr. Brooks’ blood. Those tests revealed that Mr. Brooks’ blood was positive for cocaine, cocaethylene, and Eutylone. Additionally, a blood alcohol test found Brooks’ Ethyl Alcohol Result was 0.102.
In Crosby v. Monroe Cty., 394 F.3d 1328, 1333-34 (11th Cir. 2004) the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit said it best, “We are not to view the matter as judges from the comfort and safety of our chambers, fearful of nothing more threatening than the occasional paper cut…… We must see the situation through the eyes of the officer on the scene who is hampered by incomplete information and forced to make a split-second decision between action and inaction in circumstances where inaction could prove fatal.”
On June 12, 2020 Officers Brosnan and Rolfe were involved in an intense struggle which was rapidly evolving. Mr. Brooks initiated the use of force and the officers were reacting to the actions of Mr. Brooks. The officers acted in an objectively reasonable manner under “circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving”, Graham.
Furthermore, O.C.G.A. 17-4-20(b) only authorizes an officer to use deadly force to apprehend a suspected felon when any one of the following three instances occur:
- The officer reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury; 2) When the officer reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of physical violence to the officer or others; or 3) When there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm.
In this case, all three situations existed.
Officer Rolfe fired three shots at Mr. Brooks. The fatal wound was to the left side of the middle of the back and another was to the left buttock. A third shot missed Mr. Brooks.
The analysis conducted by Force Science as a part of our investigation indicates that the decision to use deadly force by Officer Rolfe was made during the time when Brooks was discharging the TASER at Rolfe. Further quoting from the report, “When a suspect threatens an officer with deadly force and then turns before the officer can respond with gunfire, the result can include gunshot wounds to the back. However, in this case, Mr. Brooks fired the TASER at Ofc. Rolfe and continued to aim the TASER at him while running away. TASER logs indicate that Mr. Brooks pulled the TASER trigger three additional times after deploying the TASER at Ofc. Rolfe.”
Officer Rolfe was justified, therefore, in using deadly force to stop the threat Mr. Brooks continued to pose as he, Brooks, was “twisting his upper body” to be able to “reach back with his right arm extended” and fire the TASER at Rolfe.
I would be remiss if I did not address the public statements made shortly after the incident that indicated that an officer kicked Mr. Brooks as he lie on the ground after he had been shot. A frame-by-frame analysis of the video fails to reveal such an event. Instead, it appears that the officer stepped “over or around Mr. Brooks as Brooks rolled to his back.”
In conclusion, I find Officers Brosnan and Rolfe acted within the scope of their authority and duties and in accordance with the law during this incident. I further find Officer Rolfe acted as an objectively reasonable officer would under the rapidly evolving circumstances of this situation.
Therefore, given the facts, circumstances and applicable law, I will file a motion in the Superior Court of Fulton County to dismiss all charges against Brosnan and Rolfe.
I wish to express my condolences to Ms. Tomika Miller and the Brooks’ family for their loss. I am certain this is not the result she was hoping for, but it is one based upon the facts and law in this particular case.
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