DA says felony murder charge on table in Rayshard Brooks shooting after ‘unreasonable’ escalation

ATLANTA — Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN on Sunday that the decision to charge an officer involved in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks will be made “sometime around Wednesday.”

Brooks was fatally shot by Atlanta police Friday night in a Wendy’s parking lot after a struggle with authorities during a sobriety check. The shooting led to the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and sparked a demonstration where hundreds of protesters marched through the city, setting fire to the restaurant where Brooks, 27, was killed and blocking traffic on part of the highway.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office declared Brooks’ death a homicide early Sunday evening.

The three charges being considered against Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta officer who killed Brooks, include murder, felony murder and voluntary manslaughter, Howard told CNN’s Fredericka Whitfield.

“[Brooks] did not seem to present any threat to anyone. The fact that it would escalate to his death seems unreasonable,” Howard said.

Rolfe was terminated Saturday, and Howard detailed for Whitfield the nuances differentiating potential charges the former officer could face.

“There are really three charges that are relevant: One would be the murder charge in the state of Georgia. That charge is a charge that is directly related to an intent to kill,” Howard told Whitfield Sunday afternoon. “The second charge is felony murder and that is a charge that involves a death that comes as a result of the commission of an underlying felony. In this case, that underlying felony would be aggravated assault.”

Howard then acknowledged voluntary manslaughter remains a possible charge.

“But I believe in this instance, what we have to choose between, if there’s a choice to be made, is between murder and felony murder,” he said.

Key to making that decision will be determining if the officers involved felt their lives were in danger, Howard said.

“If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save [Rolfe’s] life or to prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law,” Howard told Whitfield.