The newly elected Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is the Georgia attorney general who turns the Rayshard Brooks murder case to another prosecutor. Kent D. Johnson / AP hide caption
Kent D. Johnson / AP
Kent D. Johnson / AP
In one of her first steps as the newly elected Fulton County District Attorney, Fani asked another prosecutor to take on a controversial murder case.
Willis sent a letter to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Wednesday asking to transfer the murder case of former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe who shot Rayshard Brooks in June. Rolfe is white and Brooks was black.
Willis says the case must be moved out of her office due to the behavior of her predecessor, Paul Howard. His actions raised “a sufficient question about the adequacy of this agency, which continues to conduct the investigation and possible prosecution of these cases,” she wrote.
She says Howard’s behavior, including using video evidence in a television commercial for a campaign, may have violated a Georgia Bar Rule that a prosecutor should not make “extrajudicial comments” in a criminal case that have a significant likelihood of public conviction to increase the accused. “”
Howard’s conduct in office, as well as his actions leading the Brooks firing case, is already under review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
Willis is also asking to transfer an excessive violence case involving six other Atlanta Police Department officers.
The Atlanta Journal constitution reported the contents of the letter Thursday. The newspaper said Attorney General Carr could reassign the case to another district attorney in the state, but they don’t have to accept. Carr could also keep the case to his own office to take on or appoint a special prosecutor to run the business, the paper said.
The Rolfe case is already fraught with tension and any prosecutor taking on the case would be under immense pressure.
Brook’s death came in a summer when racist tensions were high in the US and protests against police treatment of blacks raged across the country.
Rolfe and another officer, Devin Brosnan, responded to a call on June 12 that Brooks, 27, was sleeping on a Wendy’s thoroughfare. After Rolfe and Brosnan spent more than 40 minutes on Brooks, they attempted to handcuff him.
Brooks managed to tear himself away and grab an officer’s taser. When Brooks ran, he fired it back at the police. After a brief chase, Rolfe fired his service weapon at Brooks and shot him twice in the back.
Rolfe was released by Atlanta police the next day. The former officer’s attorneys have previously alleged his use of lethal force against Brooks was justified.