ATLANTA — The former Atlanta police officer accused of shooting and killing Rayshard Brooks after he passed out in a car in a Wendy’s drive-thru, is now appealing the city’s decision to fire him from the force.
Former police officer Garrett Rolfe took part in a virtual hearing Thursday where he started his fight to get reinstated.
“You shot three bullets at Rayshard Brooks while he was running away from you and struck him twice killing him, is that correct?” city of Atlanta attorney Allegra Lawrence-Hardy asked Rolfe.
“I wish to assert my rights under the fifth amendment of the united states constitution, the Georgia constitution and state law and I will not answer that question,” Rolfe answered.
“When you killed Mr. Rayshard Brooks, did you violate a work rule?” Lawrence-Hardy asked.
“I wish to assert my rights under the fifth amendment,” Rolfe answered.
Rolfe’s attorney Lance Lorusso said his focus in the hearing before a panel from a city of Atlanta Civil Service Board was not about whether Rolfe was justified in shooting Brooks on June 12, but instead getting Rolfe reinstated to his APD job because he maintains the city did not follow its own rules and ordinances and didn’t give Rolfe an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him before then-Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields fired him.
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“The question before this board was whether the disciplinary authority had the authority to dismiss appellant under the circumstances. The police chief at that time, former Chief Shields, had that authority,” Lawrence-Hardy said.
“You’re also going to hear that he was fired without an investigation,” Lorusso told the board.
“The appellant’s union representative appeared for the session and informed the APD that appellant would not be attending the employee response session,” Lawrence-Hardy said.
“I do not recall giving anyone authorization to appear for me or give any response on my behalf,” Rolfe said.
Rolfe did answer some questions in the hearing.
“I knew from a very young age that being a police officer was what I wanted to do,” Rolfe said.
“And how did you succeed in the police academy?” LoRusso asked.
“I graduated top of my class as valedictorian,” Rolfe said.
At one point in the hearing, counsel for the city asked Assistant Police Chief Todd Coyt about what he would’ve done differently in handling Brooks.
“First off, its always easy to Monday morning quarterback,” Coyt said.
Coyt seemed to suggest he might have tried to walk Brooks back toward a vehicle to use it as a barrier if he tried to run or fight.
“Where I could’ve tried to push him into the car instead of being in a wide-open parking lot,” Coyt said.
“Anything else that you observed from watching the video?” Lawrence-Hardy asked.
“As far as what I would’ve done differently, no because I believe the officers acted accordingly,” Coyt said.
“This board today can still make the choice to be on the right side of history. Holding police officers accountable for killing someone,” Lawrence-Hardy said.
Lorusso said generally the Civil Service Board’s rulings in appeals such as this come back in about 30 days.
Winne attempted to contact Lawrence-Hardy following the hearing for an interview for this story, but she said to direct any questions to the mayor’s office of communications.