Former Atlanta officer who shot Rayshard Brooks sues over firing

Garrett Rolfe was fired on June 13, the day after he fatally shot Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta.

Garrett Rolfe
Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, right, appears on a television screen with lawyer Lance LoRusso [Brynn Anderson/AP Photo]

The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks is suing the mayor and interim police chief, saying his firing violated his constitutional rights and the city code. Meanwhile, prosecutors have asked a judge to revoke his bond.

Garrett Rolfe was fired on June 13, the day after he fatally shot Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court, he says he was fired “without an investigation, without proper notice, without a disciplinary hearing, and in direct violation of the municipal code of the City of Atlanta”.

Rolfe, 27, faces 11 charges, including felony murder. He was granted bond on June 30.

Also on Tuesday, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Rolfe’s bond, saying he had travelled to Florida without permission. The bond order “expressly states that the Defendant is only allowed to leave home for medical, legal, or work related obligations”, the motion says.

Rayshard Brooks
Tomika Miller, the wife of Rayshard Brooks, centre, weeping near the entrance to Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta at Brooks’ funeral [File: John Bazemore/AP Photo] 

Police body cameras showed Rolfe and another officer, Devin Brosnan, having a calm and respectful conversation with Brooks for more than 40 minutes after complaints that the 27-year-old Black man had fallen asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-through lane on June 12.

But when officers told him he had had too much to drink to be driving and tried to handcuff him, Brooks resisted. A struggle was caught on dash camera video. Brooks grabbed one of their Tasers and fled, firing the Taser at Rolfe as he ran away.

An autopsy found Brooks was shot twice in the back.

Brosnan, 26, is charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath and is also free on bond.

Rolfe’s lawsuit, which was first reported by the Daily Report, argues that Rolfe used deadly force “within the scope and course of his duties” in response to “Brooks’ violent, unlawful, aggressive resistance to a lawful arrest”.

The lawsuit says that Rolfe could only be disciplined or terminated for cause and that he has a right to due process. The proper steps, outlined in the city code, were not taken before Rolfe was fired by then-chief Erika Shields, who resigned the same day.

The lawsuit also notes that Brosnan and many other Atlanta police officers who have been charged with crimes have remained employed while their criminal charges were pending.

Rolfe “has suffered irreparable injury to his personal and professional reputation as a result of his unlawful dismissal”, the lawsuit says, adding that he “has become a public spectacle and object of ridicule”.

The lawsuit asks a judge to hold a hearing and to order that Rolfe be immediately reinstated with back pay and other benefits.

The mayor’s office and police department did not immediately comment on Wednesday on the lawsuit.

Prosecutors received an email on Monday afternoon from one of Rolfe’s lawyers notifying them that Rolfe had travelled to Florida for vacation, according to the motion to revoke his bond. A location report from the company that owns the ankle monitor Rolfe is wearing shows that he left home early on Sunday and was in Daytona Beach, the motion says.

Prosecutors are not aware of him having been granted permission to travel and they argue that Rolfe “has clearly shown that he will not abide by the conditions of bond imposed by the Court”.

Lawyers for Rolfe did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.

Source: AP