ATLANTA — Georgia’s attorney general has named the head of the state prosecuting attorneys council to prosecute two Atlanta police officers charged with the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks last year.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned the decision means the case can finally move forward more than 13 months after Brooks’ death.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis went back and forth with the Attorney General Chris Carr about her request to recuse her office from prosecuting APD Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan.
A judge sided with Willis, which left it to Carr to either appoint someone or have his own staff handle the case.
Carr’s office announced late Wednesday afternoon that he has appointed Pete Skandalakis to handle the deeply controversial case.
Skandalakis served as DA in Coweta County before taking his current, statewide position in 2018.
He’ll oversee the prosecution of APD officer Garrett Rolfe, who is charged with murder in the shooting death of Brooks. Fellow officer Devin Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault.
The officers were trying to arrest Brooks for DUI when he started fighting, grabbed an officer’s Taser and ran off.
Rolfe shot Brooks’ after Brooks tried to fire the Taser toward the officer.
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Then-Fulton County DA Paul Howard charged the two officers just four days later, but they still haven’t been formally indicted by a grand jury. Their case has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the fight over who should prosecute it.
“I certainly understand that it may be difficult to find a DA who wants to prosecute a police officer for murder,” said Jeff Davis, who was executive director of the state bar for seven years.
But he told Belcher that he’s grateful the delay is ending.
“We have a police officer who’s been charged with murder, who needs his case adjudicated. He’s entitled to due process, and we have the victim’s family, who of course needs this case resolved,” Davis said.
Davis testified as an expert witness when Willis asked to be removed. Davis said the criminal case has continued to move forward even without a prosecutor.
Here’s what happened when one of the officers recently asked for a bond modification.
“There was nobody at the state to represent the interests of the state with that request by defendant’s counsel. The matter had to proceed. The motion had to proceed,” Davis said.
“Without the state?” Belcher asked.
“Without the state having a lawyer,” Davis said.
“Ever seen one like this?” Belcher asked Davis.
“I haven’t seen it before. It’s rather unprecedented,” Davis said.
Richard Hyde, who is a member of the judicial qualifications commission, told Belcher that “Pete (Skandalakis) is a public servant of great character who will always do the right thing without favor or fear.
“I’ve always known him to be honest, ethical and tough. We’re just glad we have someone on the other side,” Rolfe’s attorney, Noah Pines, told Belcher.
“I’ve always thought highly of him, even when he was prosecuting my clients,” Brosnan’s attorney, Don Samuels, said.
Carr clearly has great faith in the former Coweta DA. We broke the story two years ago that he was asking Skandalakis to oversee an investigation of possible sexual misconduct in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese here in Atlanta and the archdiocese in Savannah.
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