At pro-police rally, Rep. Collins renews call for DA Howard to step aside

U.S. Rep Doug Collins (fourth from left) listens as Georgia state Rep. Matt Gurtler speaks to a group gathered on the top of the Atlanta police department headquarters parking deck Sunday, June 21. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Caption
U.S. Rep Doug Collins (fourth from left) listens as Georgia state Rep. Matt Gurtler speaks to a group gathered on the top of the Atlanta police department headquarters parking deck Sunday, June 21. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Speaking to more than 100 police officers Saturday morning, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins renewed his call for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to step aside during the investigation into the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.

Collins, who is also running for U.S. Senate, said Howard's charging of the two officers involved in the case was politically motivated. Howard is entering a runoff against a challenger to keep his seat for a seventh term.

“You don’t do it for politics. Your job is to find justice for everyone,” Collins said atop the parking deck next to the Atlanta police headquarters downtown. He said an independent prosecutor should take over the case.

His remarks about Howard drew loud cheers from the law enforcement officers at the rally, several of whom were in uniform.

“We haven’t forgotten you,” Collins told the crowd.

Early Saturday afternoon, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted a link to a previous statement outlining that his office has the legal authority to appoint another prosecutor to a case only if a court disqualifies the DA or if the DA recuses himself or herself. Carr's statement did not specifically mention Howard or the Brooks case.

A spokeswoman for Carr’s office said the tweet was not in response to Saturday’s rally, but rather was intended to clear up misinformation about the law.

Republican state senators and representatives also spoke at the rally, including Sen. Mike Dugan, the Senate majority leader.

On Wednesday, Howard announced his office was bringing criminal charges against Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks, and Officer Devin Brosnan. Rolfe was fired after the fatal incident.

Several Atlanta police officers stayed home from work Wednesday night, a reaction to two weeks of turmoil that has sunk morale "tenfold," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently said on CNN.

Howard's announcement came amid widespread protests against racism and police violence, and calls to shift public funding from police departments to other social services.

The speakers Saturday did not specifically mention the Black Lives Matter movement or other cases of police misconduct that have sparked the protests.