Shortly after his release from jail Thursday afternoon, an Atlanta police officer charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks appeared on national television, calling the 27-year-old’s death a “total tragedy.”
Speaking alongside his attorney in a 12 ½- minute interview aired on MSNBC, officer Devin Brosnan said he planned on cooperating with investigators in an effort to clear his name.
“I have full faith in the criminal justice system,” he said. “I’m looking forward to cooperating with any investigators who are interested in having a conversation about what happened that night.”
Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault and three counts of violation of oath in the death of Brooks, who was shot twice Friday evening following a struggle with officers in the parking lot of a south Atlanta Wendy’s.
Former officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots, faces felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, one count of first-degree criminal damage to property and four counts of violation of oath, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced Wednesday.
He turned himself in Thursday afternoon and has since been moved to the Gwinnett County Jail, where he remains held without bond.
Asked whether Brosnan planned to testify against his former colleague, attorney Don Samuel said he and his client spent three hours speaking with members of the DA’s office and answering all of their questions before any charges were levied.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Howard said Brosnan had agreed to testify against Rolfe, referring to him as a “state’s witness.” Samuel called the phrase “TV talk.”
“We are being fully cooperative. We’re going to answer all the questions that they have or the GBI has,” Samuel told MSNBC. “But he’s not a ‘state’s witness,’ he’s not a defense witness. He’s a witness ... He’s not cooperating against anybody. He’s going to provide accurate information about what happened.”
Asked whether he had a message for Brooks’ family, Brosnan called it a “total tragedy that a man had to lose his life that night.”
The first officer on scene, body camera footage shows Brosnan waking Brooks up in the Wendy’s drive-thru line before asking him to move his car into a parking spot.
The men then spoke for several minutes before Brosnan radioed for a DUI-certified officer and Rolfe arrived at the fast-food restaurant.
“For my initial encounter with him, I felt he was friendly. He was respectful,” Brosnan said of Brooks. “I was respectful to him and I felt that this seemed like someone who potentially needed my help. I was really just there to see what I could do for him and make sure he was safe.”
During the encounter, Brooks offered to walk home, telling the officers his sister lived nearby and that he was willing to come back later for his car.
Asked whether he ever considered letting the 27-year-old leave, Brosnan declined to answer the question.
As for Howard’s allegations that Rolfe kicked Brooks after shooting him in the parking lot, Brosnan told the news network he never saw that happen.
Brosnan himself has been accused of standing on Brooks’ shoulders rather than rendering medical aid as he lay dying, a claim his attorney denied.
“Literally for a matter of seconds — seconds — he puts a foot on his arm to make sure he can’t grab a weapon,” Samuel said. “Then he realizes what’s going on ... He was not standing on his shoulders.”
Both officers have also been accused of failing to render medical aid for more than two minutes as Brooks died, but Samuel said his client attempted to help the man despite suffering a concussion in the struggle moments earlier.
“He certainly rendered aid as fast as he could,” Samuel said. “Officer Brosnan, with a concussion, is the only one — not the other officers to show up — who actually starts rendering aid and doing CPR.”
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