Fulton County District Attorney Requests to Be Removed from Rayshard Brooks Case


Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking another prosecutor to assume the case due to her predecessor’s conduct. Willis requested removal of her office from prosecuting former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe in a letter to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is also requesting to reassign another case involving six Atlanta Police Department Officers alleged to have used excessive force.

According to Willis, the county’s previous district attorney, Paul Howard, reportedly used video evidence from Brooks’ case in a campaign ad. Willis claimed that the act may have violated Georgia Bar Rule 3.8(g) by not “refraining from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

Carr may opt to assign both cases to another district attorney. However, a district attorney could also opt to turn down either case. That would leave Carr with the difficult choice of either taking on the case himself or having Willis continue on it.

Spokespersons with the district attorney’s office didn’t respond to request for comment.

Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has been under the shadow of controversy for months now. Long before Willis’s letter and election, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) began investigating Howard’s conduct. Officials looked into $250,000 granted to Howard’s office for crime fighting plans, over half of which Howard allegedly took for himself. Then late last August, the U.S. Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington joined the investigation and served grand jury subpoenas on the City of Atlanta and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

Beyond that, there were some uncertainties surrounding Howard’s means of filing charges in the Brooks case to begin with. According to reports, Howard managed to issue grand jury subpoenas without a grand jury in place, prompting the GBI to investigate this as well. Howard offered three different explanations to three different reporters: that he was intending the subpoena for a potential future grand jury, that he thought a past grand jury was in session, and that a second grand jury was still available at the time.

The case itself is tricky: Brooks’ death occurred less than two weeks after George Floyd’s death.

On June 12, Brooks was shot by Rolfe after taking one of the two responding officers’ tasers and firing it at them while fleeing. The officers had originally responded to the scene on a report that Brooks had fallen asleep behind the wheel in a Wendy’s drive-thru lane. When Brooks failed a sobriety test, the officers attempted to arrest him. Although the autopsy was made public, the toxicology report hasn’t been.

Protests broke out over the incident the day after.

Rolfe was fired from the Atlanta Police Department (APD) the day after the incident, and the other responding officer was placed on administrative leave. Shortly after, APD Police Chief Erika Shields stepped down from her position. Shield has since assumed the role as Police Chief of Louisville Metro Police.

Carr hasn’t indicated how he will act on Willis’s request.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Image “Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis” by Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis.







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