Interim APD chief criticizes DA for bringing charges in Rayshard Brooks case so quickly

Atlanta police Interim Chief Rodney Bryant
Atlanta police Interim Chief Rodney Bryant

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Atlanta’s interim police chief criticized the Fulton County District Attorney’s decision to file charges in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks before the GBI finished its own investigation.

In a Thursday interview with Channel 2 Action News, Interim Chief Rodney Bryant said he believed charges were brought too quickly against ex-officer Garrett Rolfe and officer Devin Brosnan.

“I think that anytime the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation and for us to get all the facts — in our line of work, that’s what we have to do. We have to make sure that we have all the facts or enough facts to warrant charges,” he said.

Credit: AJC

Rodney Bryant said there is not enough facts to warrant charges.

Credit: AJC

Rolfe faces 11 charges, including felony murder, after he shot and killed Brooks on June 12. Brooks was found sleeping in a Wendy's drive-thru and later failed a breathalyzer test before struggling over a Taser during his arrest.

District Attorney Paul Howard accused Rolfe of kicking Brooks after the shooting, adding that Brosnan stood on the gravely injured man. Brosnan faces four charges, including aggravated assault.

RELATED: Rayshard Brooks' final 41 minutes

The attorneys for both men dispute the charges, maintain their innocence and claim their actions were justified. They also deny trying to further hurt Brooks after the shooting.

Bryant told Channel 2 that he welcomes scrutiny against police use of force, but he wants prosecutors to exercise due process before bringing charges.

“What we do want is a level of due process as it relates to how investigations are handled and how we’re criminally charged,” he said.

In a statement to the news station, DA Paul Howard’s office said, “I do not believe that interim chief’s statement that the District Attorney’s Office moved too fast is supported by facts.”

DA Paul Howard announces charges against officers involved in Rayshard Brooks killing

The statement added that Howard's decision to charge the officers was made after his office's own investigation, citing eight videos of the incident as evidence. He compared that to the one video the GBI reviewed before charging two men in the Ahmaud Arbery shooting case. Those charges were brought one day after the GBI took over the case.

“The actions of Officer Rolfe were so egregious that the police department and mayor, within hours after the incident, fired Officer Rolfe without the benefit of a GBI investigation or a hearing,” the statement continued.

Chief Erika Shields resigned soon after the incident, leading to Bryant's appointment to interim chief.

RELATED: Bryant backs officers, says reforms are coming

Bryant told Channel 2 that Howard would normally wait for the GBI to finish its investigation into an officer-involved shooting before deciding whether to bring charges. Howard said he’s only being criticized because of the outcome of his office’s investigation.

“Isn’t it true that after five days of intensive investigation, if we had moved to exonerate Officer Rolfe, that rather than being the subject of threats I would be a hero,” his statement said.

Several government officials have criticized Howard's decision to quickly bring charges in this case, since he is in the middle of a heated runoff election.

MORE: Longtime Fulton DA forced into runoff vs. former chief deputy

The GBI, which is investigating $250,000 in payments previously received by Howard from Atlanta, also recently widened its investigation to include Howard's use of grand jury subpoenas issued in the Brooks' case.

In a statement provided to AJC.com on Thursday night, Rolfe’s legal team said Attorney General Chris Carr requested the GBI to expand its investigation.

Bryant said morale within Atlanta police has been low since widespread protests began against police brutality and racism. He said the quick charges in Brooks' case has only exacerbated those morale issues.

This story was first reported by Channel 2 Action News.

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Credit: AJC

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