The wife of the late Rayshard Brooks’, a 27-year-old father of four shot to death by an Atlanta police officer in June, told a crowd at the site of her husband’s death that she felt betrayed by Fulton County’s newly elected District Attorney.
Tomika Miller criticized District Attorney Fani Willis’ decision last week to transfer Brooks’ case to the Georgia Attorney General. She made her comments at a press conference organized by The People’s Uprising Task Force, a coalition of elected officials, community organizers and activists.
Miller said Willis had not updated her on the status of the case.
“That was another slap in the face of disrespect,” Miller said, and then she addressed Willis directly. “Not only did you hurt me, but you hurt everyone out here who was counting on you to do the right thing. You say that you don’t run from hard cases, but baby you ran from this one.”
Willis Spokesman Jeff DiSantis said in a statement that the district attorney transferred the case out of ethical concerns related to the actions of her predecessor, Paul Howard.
“His conduct in handling these matters is subject to a criminal investigation by the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) and may have violated the ethics rules governing prosecutors,” DiSantis said.
Howard charged Officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder in the midst of a tough reelection campaign against Willis. Rolfe was fired from the Atlanta police department and is free on a $500,000 bond.
Attorney Noah Pines, who represents Rolfe, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Willis’ decision was the correct one.
Brooks scuffled with officers in the parking lot outside a Wendy’s after they attempted to arrest him on a DUI charging, striking one and grabbing a Taser from the other. Brooks turned slightly and fired the Taser in the officers’ direction as he ran away. He was shot as he fled.
The Wendy’s, which was occupied by protestors for weeks over the summer, has since been demolished.
In August, Willis unseated Howard, a six-term incumbent.
Last week, Willis wrote to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, arguing that Howard’s conduct — particularly his use of video evidence in campaign advertisements — raised doubt about the appropriateness of her office handling the case.
Carr’s office could prosecute the case, or have it transferred to another district attorney.
Howard declined to respond directly to Willis’ accusations.
“I do not plan to sit as a barometer of what the new DA does,” Howard said. “If people look very closely what they will see is it’s not an issue about Fani Willis. It’s not an issue about Paul Howard. This is a national issue ... It is the same thing that has happened in many, many other cities before.”
NAACP Vice President Gerald Griggs demanded that Carr send the case to “a similarly situated jurisdiction so that Rayshard’s family can get justice.”
Griggs, a Civil Rights attorney, then led the crowd in a chant: “Prosecute the police.”
Willis has also sought the transfer of cases involving six officers charged in the Tasing of two young people in May. The incident happened as police tried to enforce a curfew in downtown during mass demonstrations against police brutality.
Willis’ letter said that Howard may have violated a Georgia Bar Rule that prohibits prosecutors in criminal cases from making statements unless they are necessary to inform the “public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”