Cop Garrett Rolfe charged with murder of Rayshard Brooks is allowed back to work as firing reversed
5th May 2021

ATLANTA police have reinstated cop Garrett Rolfe, who was fired last summer after the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s. 

Rolfe, 28, was charged with murder after he tasered Brooks, 27, and then shot him in the back as he fled police outside the fast-food restaurant on June 12.

On Wednesday, the Atlanta Civil Service Board announced that Rolfe would return to the force as it believed he was not “afforded his due right to process” before he was fired.  

“Due to the City's failure to comply with several provisions of the Code and the information received during witnesses' testimony, the Board concludes the Appellant was not afforded his right to due process,” the board announced Wednesday. 

“Therefore, the Board grants the Appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD.”

The ruling will not see Rolfe return to his job as a patrol officer, as his bond on murder charges prevents him from possessing a firearm or being around other officers. 

“He’d essentially be on administrative leave pending the outcome of the charges against them,” Rolfe’s attorney, Lance LoRusso told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

It comes after Rolfe filed a lawsuit last August against the city’s mayor and the interim police chief in an effort to get his job back, along with back pay and benefits. 

He appeared in front of the board last month as he claimed his termination was “without an investigation” which violated city code.

In his argument to the board last month, LoRusso had compared the case to that of Atlanta investigators Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner. 

Their jobs were reinstated in February after they were fired for tasing college students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young during protests last summer. 

LoRusso claimed that Rolfe wasn’t given enough time to respond to his "notice of proposed adverse action" before being fired. 

This is generally a ten-day period but Rolfe had been fired a day after the incident. 

Rolfe told the board that he was contacted by phone and given an hour to appear for an employee response session. 

Yet he claimed that he was more than an hour away and feared traveling into Atlanta as video of Brooks’ death had begun to circulate online. 

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced his firing later that day.

The attorney representing the police department, Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, argued that then-Police Chief Erika Shields had the authority to fire Rolfe under the circumstances. 

She cited a rule that states APD employees "are expressly prohibited from the unnecessary or unreasonable use of force against any person or property.”

It adds that they "shall only use that force, which is reasonable and necessary to affect an arrest, prevent an escape, necessarily restrict the movement of a prisoner, defend himself or another from physical assault, or to accomplish other lawful objectives."

The board announced it was siding with Rolfe on Wednesday over the disciplinary period. 

"In this case, the effective date of the discipline was June 14, 2020, and the (notice of proposed adverse action) and the (notice of final adverse action) were issued to the Appellant’s Union Representative at virtually the same time on June 13, 2020,” the board said in its decision. 

“As such, the City’s actions were not compliant with the ten days prior notice period as required by the Code."

Rolfe still faces murder charges over Brooks’ death but the case has found itself in a legal quagmire. 

He had been charged with felony murder by former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

Yet Howard’s successor, Fani Willis, has sought to recuse her office. 

The request was refused but a judge is yet to decide what will happen next. 

Rolfe, who had worked for the police department since 2013, claims in the court documents that the shooting was justified, alleging that Brooks violently resisted arrest.

On the night of June 12, Rolfe and another officer, Devin Brosnan, responded to a call that Brooks had fallen asleep in a Wendy's drive-thru lane.

It is believed Brooks was chatting cooperatively with officers minutes before his death, saying he had a couple of drinks to celebrate his daughter's birthday and agreeing to a breath test.

“I know you’re just doing your job,” Brooks says on video after consenting to the breath test. "I just had a few drinks, that's all."

After failing a sobriety test, an altercation occurred between Brooks and the two cops.

They began wrestling on the ground and fighting over a taser gun before Brooks took the weapon and bolted.

It was then when Rolfe fatally shot Brooks.

An autopsy report showed that Brooks died from organ damage and blood loss relating to two gunshot wounds in the back.

Brooks left behind three daughters, aged 1, 2, and 8 years old, as well as a 13-year-old stepson, according to WGAL.

Rolfe who faces 11 charges in Brooks' killing was released on June 30 on a $500,000 bond.

Brosnan, who was not fired after the shooting, also faces charges of aggravated assault. 

Brook's death prompted citywide outrage and was the catalyst for the sudden resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Shields. 

It came just two weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Ex-cop Derek Chauvin has since been found guilty of his murder. 

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