Fulton DA is denied warrant to probe Garrett Rolfe fundraising site

Ex-cop Rolfe is charged with murder in death of Rayshard Brooks

A Fulton County judge recently denied a search warrant sought by prosecutors who wanted information on a fundraising site set up for the former Atlanta police officer charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.

An official from the district attorney’s office sought the search warrant last week from Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney to support a possible bail-jumping charge. But the judge said he rejected the request.

The fundraising site was set up after ex-officer Garrett Rolfe was fired from his job less than 24 hours after he shot and killed Brooks on June 12 in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant. Rolfe is now charged with murder and other offenses.

The warrant application said prosecutors wanted to know who had established the fundraising site, how much money had been raised and where the money went, McBurney said in an interview.

“I did not find there was enough probable cause to sign that warrant,” the judge said, declining further comment.

Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney at the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta on May 23, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER / ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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Noah Pines, one of Rolfe’s lawyers, condemned the request by the DA’s office. He also noted that he has a pending motion that seeks to recuse District Attorney Paul Howard on allegations he had made ethically inappropriate public statements about the case.

“He could have waited for a ruling before taking further action,” Pines said. “Instead, he sought to uncover the private information of Americans who donated to Garrett Rolfe’s defense because they believed in his innocence.”

Defense attorney Noah Pines (right) speaks at a press conference in Decatur on May 12, 2017, alongside then-client Jeffrey Mann. (HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM0


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Pines suggested that Howard may not have really been looking for evidence of bail jumping. Instead, he could have been planning to use the search warrant as “a pretext to intimidate the people who have spoken out on behalf of our client,” the attorney said.

The DA’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

In a recent order, Chief Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher asked Fulton prosecutors to file a legal brief responding to the recusal motion no later than this coming Monday.

Just days after the shooting, the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization, a nonprofit that supports police, began a fundraising campaign on its website to cover Rolfe’s legal expenses and his family’s personal needs. So far, it has raised more than $500,000, according to the nonprofit’s website.

The DA’s office recently moved to revoke Rolfe’s $500,000 bond because he traveled to Florida to visit family members. On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick refused to do so, but in a sternly worded decision ordered Rolfe to remain in his home and strictly adhere to the conditions of his bond.