ATLANTA — Atlanta's interim police chief is going on record about how the charges were brought against two former officers in the death of Rayshard Brooks.
The chief spoke exclusively to Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne. During the interview, he told Winne he has a problem with the process the district attorney followed and he believes charges were brought too quickly.
“What we do want is a level of due process as it relates to how investigations are handled and how we’re criminally charged,” Rodney Bryant said.
“You’re saying charges were brought too quickly in the Rayshard Brooks case?” Winne asked.
“I think absolutely. I think that anytime the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation and for us to get all the facts that’s, 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,” Bryant said.
Bryant says he is not saying whether ultimately now-former officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan should or should not be charged, just that, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard should have decided whether to seek charges after the GBI completed its independent investigation.
“We don’t mind people scrutinizing what we do. We want to be held accountable,” Bryant said.
In a statement, Howard’s office said, “I do not believe the interim chief’s statement that the District Attorney’s Office moved too fast is supported by facts.
The D.A.‘s office says the decision to charge is solely and independently made by the district attorney’s office.
Rolfe was charged with felony murder and more. His lawyers maintained his actions were justified. As for Brosnan, attorney Don Samuel said he “is unequivocally not guilty of the aggravated assault and violation of oath charges he faces for what happened after the Brooks shooting.”
Howard’s statement says, “The actions of Officer Rolfe were so egregious that the police department and the mayor, within hours after the incident, fired Officer Rolfe without the benefit of a GBI investigation or a hearing.”
The statement also says that in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, the GBI, through the use of one videotape, issued arrest warrants one day after their investigation began. In the Rolfe case, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office had eight tapes
Bryant said Howard normally waits to decide whether to charge officers until after the GBI report is in and often has his own office conduct its own investigation beyond that.
But Howard’s statement says, “Isn’t it true that after five days of intense investigation, if we had moved to exonerate Officer Rolfe, that rather than being the subject of threats I would be a hero?
DA candidate Fani Willis, who is running against Howard, said police brutality is a major issue in the race. She believes the DA should investigate independently but the GBI results would’ve been prudent.
“We all deserve due process,” Willis said. “The community, which includes our police department, deserves some consistency.”
Bryant says morale was bad before all of this and that this has caused more morale issues among the department. He says Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has supported his efforts to address them.
Rolfe’s attorney sent Channel 2 a statement Friday morning:
“As many of you already know, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office sent out at least one unlawful grand jury subpoena in the case against Garrett Rolfe. This is just another example of the lack of due process that Garrett Rolfe is receiving at the hands of Paul Howard. Paul Howard initially told the Fulton County Daily Report that his office “proactively” sent out grand jury subpoenas in advance of the expiration of the judicial emergency order “in the hopes” that a grand jury might be able to convene once the order expired. He later changed his story and said that the “employee who issued the Grand Jury subpoena was under the impression that the March/April Grand Jury was still impaneled.” Obviously, these statements cannot be reconciled with each other. Regardless of the reason, the misuse of a subpoena can be a violation of Rule 8.4 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and can result in disbarment. Additionally, we have learned that the State Attorney General, Chris Carr, asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to widen the current criminal investigation of Paul Howard to include the misuse of grand jury subpoenas. We applaud the Attorney General’s action and look forward to the GBI’s investigation of Paul Howard.”
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