ATLANTA — Georgia’s Attorney General has denied a request to assign a special prosecutor to the Rayshard Brooks shooting case, citing the current Fulton D.A.’s ability to handle the case.
In a February 9th response letter obtained by Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr, AG Chris Carr wrote to newly-elected Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis.
On Jan. 25th , Willis requested Carr’s office to assign special prosecutors to two separate cases in which her predecessor Paul Howard indicted a total of eight Atlanta police officers.
The first case involved six officers charged in the Tasing arrests of two Clark Atlanta students during summer protests. Carr’s office said Willis will still have to prosecute the case.
In the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks involving APD officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, Carr also directed Willis to continue prosecuting the case through her office. Willis had raised concern about Howard’s use of the Grand Jury and his alignment with Georgia Bar rules, had previously requested the case be sent elsewhere.
“Making a spectacle, by having those large press conferences on cases before there was even an indictment, I thought there was so clear violations to the bar rule,” Willis told Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston on Tuesday.
The move made some people so upset, they tried to jump on the downtown connector last week to stop traffic. Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, pleaded with Willis to keep the case.
“I stand here today asking that Fani think about what she did because you hurt me and everyone out there counting on you to do the right thing. You said you don’t run from hard cases, but baby you ran from this one,” Miller said.
Carr said what Howard did with the Brooks case, left when he left office and for that reason Willis was not disqualified from the case
“While your letter raises concerns regarding your predecessor in office, those concerns relate to that person,” Carr writes to Willis. “They do not relate to you and do not relate to the Office of the District Attorney of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.”
“While I understand the concerns that you have raised, those concerns relate to a potential violation of a rule of the State Bar of Georgia by your predecessor and a potential criminal investigation of your predecessor. Both appear fairly obviously to be matters that are personal to your predecessor in office and that do not pertain to you or your office. Therefore, from the concerns raised in your letter, it appears abundantly clear that your office is not disqualified from these cases by interest or relationship.”
Willis’ office released a statement late Tuesday, saying:
“This office has just received the letter from the Attorney General’s office. The District Attorney disagrees with the Attorney General’s conclusion, as it is contrary to the longstanding practice and position of the Attorney General’s office in these matters. It also contradicts the advice the Attorney General’s office gave to the District Attorney at a Prosecuting Attorneys Council meeting in December.
“The Attorney General’s action is also contrary to the position of legal ethics experts, including Professor Clark Cunningham of Georgia State University, who was quoted in the New York Times supporting the recusal, and distinguished attorney Page Pate, who also supported the decision on WABE.
“The District Attorney is dedicated to ensuring justice is done in these and all matters, and will handle these cases accordingly.”
Attorneys for the Brooks family also released a statement, saying:
“We recently learned of Attorney General Chris Carr’s decision to deny Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ request to transfer criminal cases against the Atlanta police officers charged in the Brooks, Pilgrim and Young cases.
“Our clients each had violent interactions with these APD officers. Rayshard Brooks lost his life. Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young suffered serious physical and psychological injuries. We believe that these officers should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, but it became abundantly clear through her recusal letter that the Fulton DA was not interested in prosecuting these cases.
“While we were disappointed that the Fulton DA made the decision to request a transfer of these cases, we were hopeful that Attorney General Carr would give them to a prosecutor who would pursue these cases vigorously.
“Now we are left in a state of limbo. Our clients deserve better.
“We intend to meet with Fulton DA Willis next week to see where we go from here and will address media in a more substantive way after that discussion.”
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