Collins wants feds to probe Fulton DA’s ‘egregious’ decision in Brooks killing

March 2, 2020 - Atlanta - Congressman Doug Collins, R-Ga., talks with the media after he signed in at the Secretary of States office to qualify  for the special election to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson's former seat. A large turnout by both Democrats and Republicans on the first day of election qualifying resulted in long lines of politicians waiting to sign in.   Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com
March 2, 2020 - Atlanta - Congressman Doug Collins, R-Ga., talks with the media after he signed in at the Secretary of States office to qualify for the special election to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson's former seat. A large turnout by both Democrats and Republicans on the first day of election qualifying resulted in long lines of politicians waiting to sign in. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

GREENSBORO – This Georgia city is 75 miles east of Atlanta and seems farther from its tangled court system. But when Doug Collins mentioned Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard at a campaign stop Tuesday, there was an audible hiss in the room.

The Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat has ratcheted up the pressure on Howard to recuse himself from the investigation into the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was killed outside an Atlanta Wendy’s after a struggle with two Atlanta police officers.

At TV appearances and on social media, the four-term congressman has urged Howard to step aside and allow an independent prosecutor to take up the case after the district attorney charged two Atlanta police officers with Brooks’ killing.

And on Wednesday he sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr urging him to open an investigation into Howard's "egregious abuse of power" and accused him being driven by political reasons. Howard faces an August runoff against a challenger to keep his seat for a seventh term.

“I ask that you engage any and all Department of Justice resources you consider appropriate to ensure that these officers are treated fairly under the law, and are not subject to abrogation of their right to be treated fairly under the law simply because they are law enforcement officers,” he wrote.

06/23/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia -  Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard speaks to the press before the start of the funeral service for Rayshard Brooks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn community, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
06/23/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard speaks to the press before the start of the funeral service for Rayshard Brooks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn community, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

The public pressure offers Collins, the son of a Georgia State Patrol trooper, an avenue to demonstrate his support for law enforcement at a time when protests demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality are infuriating some conservatives.

They also allow him to swipe at supporters of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, whom he’s challenging in the November special election. He’s repeatedly urged Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr – two of Loeffler’s top political allies – to join his call.

Carr has pointed to state laws that show his office has the legal authority to appoint another prosecutor to a case only if a court disqualifies the DA or if the DA recuses himself or herself.

Howard, who didn't immediately comment, has denied accusations that he was politically motivated to bring criminal charges against Garrett Rolfe, who fired the shots that killed Brooks, and Officer Devin Brosnan. Both have said they followed police protocol and did nothing wrong.

The district attorney is also facing a criminal investigation at Carr’s request. Its focus is Howard’s use of a nonprofit to funnel city of Atlanta grant money to his personal bank account.

In the letter, Collins said Howard should have presented the evidence first to a grand jury and criticized his public statements about the case.

“Georgians must have confidence that both the process and the outcome of this case is devoid of any and all political influence,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, Georgians have rightfully lost that confidence in DA Howard.”

ExploreRead the letter here:
 

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