As Rayshard Brooks lay dying in a Wendy’s parking lot — shot twice in the back — Atlanta police officers kicked him and stood on his body, according to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.
That was just one of the many detailed allegations Howard presented in a lengthy press conference Wednesday while announcing that Garrett Rolfe was being charged with 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Brooks was shot by Rolfe on Friday night in the fast-food restaurant’s parking lot after police responded to a call about Brooks being asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane. Brooks failed a sobriety test and officers tried to handcuff him. Videos from the scene show Brooks wrestling with two white officers and getting a Taser from one of them. Brooks aimed the Taser at the officers while running away.
But Howard listed example after example which he said contributed to finding Rolfe’s actions against Brooks were criminal.
Rolfe knew the Taser that Brooks had “presented no danger” because it had already been shot twice, Howard alleged.
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Department policy does not allow officers to fire a Taser at a fleeing suspect, much less shoot them, Howard said.
And Howard cited legal precedent that said officers may not use deadly force to prevent a suspect from escaping unless they have “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses an immediate threat of death or of serious physical injury.” He presented numerous pieces of evidence that he said showed Brooks was no such threat.
As Brooks fled, he was shot in the back at a distance of more than 18 feet, with one of the bullets penetrating his heart, Howard said.
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Officer Devin Brosnan was also at the scene and is facing three lesser charges. Rolfe was fired after shooting, while Brosnan was placed on leave.
Howard said his office had taken the unusual step of issuing an arrest warrant prior to an indictment, due to a number of contributing factors.
Here are some of the allegations against Rolfe, according to the DA’s statements Wednesday:
Brooks ‘never presented himself as a threat’
Brooks’ cordial and cooperative demeanor before the attempt to arrest him played a major role in the determination to present charges, Howard said.
For 41 minutes and 17 seconds, Brooks “never presented himself as a threat,” Howard said. He “never displayed any aggressive behavior.”
His demeanor was so nonthreatening, that during the stop, the officers took Brooks at his word when he said a bulge in his pants was a wad of bills rather than any kind of weapon.
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‘There was no medical attention applied’
Contrary to department policy, the officers did not provide medical assistance to Brooks for more than two minutes after he was shot, Howard said.
Officers must provide “timely” medical attention after a person is injured in a shooting, Howard said. “But after Mr. Brooks was shot, for some period of two minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied to Mr. Brooks.”
‘Rolfe actually kicked’ Brooks
Video evidence shows Rolfe kicking Brooks “while he laid on the ground, fighting for his life,” Howard said.
Brosnan is also seen on the video standing on Brooks’ shoulders, the DA said.
After the shooting, the officers did not appear to have any fear of Brooks, Howard said. Instead, the officers seemed to have “other kinds of emotions,” Howard said without elaborating.
Rolfe said ‘I got him’ immediately after the shooting
Howard called Rolfe’s reaction to the shooting an “excited utterance” — a technical term for something a person says in the heat of a moment that carries high legal significance.
“At the time that the shot was fired, the utterance made by Officer Rolfe was ‘I got him,'” the DA said.
Such a statement contributed to the DA’s opinion that Rolfe’s actions were excessive.
Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz and Jordan Culver, USA TODAY.