Judge recuses Fulton DA from prosecuting officer accused of killing Rayshard Brooks

ATLANTA — A judge has recused Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from prosecuting the officer accused of shooting and killing Rayshard Brooks.

Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer in a Wendy’s parking lot last year after he was caught sleeping in his car in the drive-through line and got into a struggle with officers.

Willis has twice asked state Attorney General Chris Carr to find another prosecutor to handle the case. Carr has refused twice.

Willis argued that her office can barely handle the case because of actions by her predecessor, Paul Howard.

In February, Willis asked the judge in the case to convene a special meeting to determine who is going to represent the state when the two Atlanta officers involved in Brooks’ death, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Bronsan, are tried.

Rolfe, who was recently reinstated by Atlanta’s Civil Service Board, was charged with felony murder last June, less than a week after shooting Brooks.

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In her motion, Willis said there was “no known precedent” for the attorney general’s refusal to allow her to step aside for ethical considerations.

On Friday, Fulton Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher sided with Willis.

“This Court finds, based upon the record before it, that it is all but inevitable that numerous present members of the District Attorney’s staff, and likely the District Attorney herself, will be called as witnesses for the Defendant both at any trial of this case and in pretrial matters in advance of any trial,” Brasher wrote. “The circumstances surrounding the calling of the above-referenced witnesses, and the matters about which they will be called to testify, demonstrate that there exists a conflict of interest on the part of the Office of the District Attorney for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.”

In a statement to Channel 2 Action News, Willis said:

“I appreciate Judge Brasher’s careful consideration of the difficult issues presented by this matter, and I expect that this will allow the case to move forward in a manner consistent with achieving a just result that all parties will have confidence in.”

Rolfe’s attorney, Bill Thomas, also sent a statement, saying:

“Today Judge Brasher issued an order, based on the motion to recuse we filed and on the District Attorney’s own filings, disqualifying the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office from the prosecution of our client Garrett Rolfe. We welcome this order and look forward to the Attorney General appointing a special prosecutor to fairly and objectively review the events of June 12, 2020, that resulted in Officer Rolfe’s legal use of deadly force. We continue to maintain Officer’s Rolfe’s use of deadly force was legally justified and we look forward to his complete exoneration.”

The judge has ordered the attorney general’s office to appoint a “substitute prosecutor.”