At some point early this morning, former Atlanta Police Officer Garret Rolfe was released from jail after posting a half-million-dollar bond. Rolfe is still facing numerous charges in the death of Rayshard Brooks and the release came despite pleas from Brooks’ widow to keep him locked up. The terms of his release are quite restrictive and he won’t be able to leave town.
But at the same time, more details are emerging from the investigation into what precisely happened on June 12th when Brooks was shot. One Atlanta Police Department homicide detective who has been assigned to the case has investigated the evidence extensively and this week he filed a court brief on behalf of the defense. In it, Detective Al Hogan claimed in the filing that, had Brooks survived the encounter, he would have charged him with ten different criminal charges. (Daily Wire)
In a defense filing for former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe, who has been charged with felony murder in the Rayshard Brooks case, the Atlanta Police Department homicide detective assigned to the case, Al Hogan, sided with Rolfe, noting that he would have brought 10 charges against Brooks had he survived the incident.
“Atlanta PD detective assigned to the [Rayshard Brooks] investigation says he would have charged Brooks — not Rolfe — with 10 counts, including multiple felonies,” posted Philip Holloway, a legal analyst for CNN who specializes in “criminal law, police law, and civil and administrative litigation” (post below). Captioning a screenshot of Hogan’s letter, Holloway noted: “Usually law enforcement are witnesses for the state but this is from a defense filing.”
Mr. Hogan was assigned the Brooks case and arrived on scene shortly after the incident, he explains in the letter.
The charges being set out by Hogan all seem fairly straightforward and match up with what we saw in the video of the shooting. The list starts off with two different counts of DUI, which was probably a violation of Brooks’ probation to begin with and might have landed him back in jail. Moving on from there we see one count of Felony Obstruction.
Then we get to the serious charges Brooks could have faced. These include two counts each of Battery Against a Police Officer and Aggravated Assault Against a Police Officer. (Presumably for both the physical assault as he fought to break free of restraint and firing the Taser at the officers.) Those are followed by Theft by Taking, Removal of Weapon from a Public Official and Robbery. All of those are clearly related to grabbing the Taser from the APD.
This is going to complicate the District Attorney’s case against Rolfe even further, and it was pretty weak tea to being with. The prosecution is seeking to portray Brooks as some sort of happy-go-lucky drunk who just happened to fall asleep in the Wendy’s drive-through and was then gunned down by racist cops. But both the video evidence and the results of this investigation tell a very different tale.
I touched on this aspect of the case in an earlier article I wrote about what happens when the police become fed up with being used as scapegoats to appease an angry mob. It’s clear that Brooks instigated and then severely escalated the violence at a point where the cops were ready to calmly and safely take him in on a DUI charge. Physically assaulting the police and then stealing a Taser and firing it at them brought the confrontation to a crisis point, particularly when Georgia law defines a Taser as a potentially lethal weapon.
The only moment where the prosecution should be able to hang its hat on some sort of charge against Rolfe comes with the decision to shoot him in the back while he’s fleeing. Rolfe and the other officers would need to be able to convince a jury that allowing Brooks to escape at that point would pose a reasonable risk of danger to either the public or other officers. Given that the Taser was presumably discharged at that point and Brooks didn’t have any other weapons on him, that might be a stretch.
But felony murder? I’m still gobsmacked that the DA could have been so panicked over the potential reaction in the streets to the shooting that he would overreact to such a vast degree. Frankly, I don’t know if they’ll be able to get a conviction against Rolfe for anything at this point, nor am I completely convinced that they should be able to.
As for Rolfe’s current conditions, he’s supposed to wear an ankle monitor at all times, observe a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am, and surrender his passport so he can’t flee the country. He will also be forbidden from carrying any type of firearms and he won’t be allowed to contact any of Brooks’ family nor any police officers. In other words, he’s locked down and sidelined while the case plays out.