Atlanta lawyers seek civil trial against officers that killed Rayshard Brooks

Attorneys ask community to support Brooks’ family after prosecutor rejects criminal charges

The attorneys representing the family of Rayshard Brooks are pursuing a civil lawsuit against the Atlanta police officers involved in the fatal shooting two years ago.

Speaking from their law office in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday, Chris Stewart and Justin Miller shared details about their plans for civil court proceedings hours after the special prosecutor investigating the criminal case announced that he would not pursue charges against the officers.

Officers Garrett Rolfe fatally shot Brooks, 27, on June 12, 2020, following a struggle that erupted as they tried to arrest him in a Wendy’s parking lot for driving under the influence of alcohol. The shooting sparked protests at the restaurant, which was burned to the ground the following day.

ExploreNo charges against Atlanta officers in fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks

Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said the use of deadly force was justified, in part because Brooks tried to use a deadly weapon against them. During the struggle, Brooks stole Officer Devin Brosnan’s taser and fired it at both of them.

The Brooks family attorneys said during their news conference that they aren’t angry, nor surprised, with the prosecutor’s decision. However, they did say they are heartbroken, confused, and destroyed over what they call a “travesty of justice.”

“A jury should decide this case, that’s the bottom line, not six people who we don’t know who they are,” Miller said. “But today, we did not get a jury, we did not get a choice. The people of Fulton County didn’t get to decide whether or not this was right or if this was wrong.”

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Stewart urged the community to support the Brooks family instead of resorting to the violence and unrest that occurred following Brooks’ death. He also stressed that no one should try to fight with police officers.

Miller said the prosecutor did not reveal any new evidence and instead focused on ways to justify Brooks’ death. He said Brooks was wrong for trying to escape arrest, but that the officers should have jailed Brooks for fighting back.

The Brooks attorneys also said the prosecutors were disingenuous for saying the incident lacked a racial element. Miller said Officer Rolfe for instance lacks experience with the Black community that should have been considered.

Stewart said the prosecutors may not have found any evidence of “racial animus” from the officers, but he and Miller said they plan to put the officers on the stand during a civil trial to gauge the officer’s perceptions about the incident.

“We’re looking forward to this part of the process because there will be no other part … because there’s no jury trial,” Miller said.

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