ATLANTA (Reuters) – An Atlanta police officer was charged on Wednesday with murder for the shooting death last week of Rayshard Brooks in a fast-food parking lot, while a fellow officer facing lesser charges has agreed to testify against his colleague.
The death of Brooks – the latest in a long line of unarmed African Americans whose fatal encounters with law enforcement have been documented on video – further heightened U.S. social tensions at a time of national soul-searching over police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system.
Brooks, a 27-year-old father-of-three, “never presented himself as a threat” and showed no aggressive behavior toward the two white officers involved in the confrontation last Friday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told a news conference.
Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks and was dismissed the next day after surveillance video revealed his conduct in the incident, was charged with 11 criminal counts, including felony murder, assault with a deadly weapon and violating his oath of office, Howard said.
Rolfe, 27, faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted, Howard added.
Devin Brosnan, 26, the other officer on the scene, was charged with aggravated assault and violations of his oath of office, Howard added. Brosnan, placed on administrative duty after the shooting, has given statements to investigators supporting the charges against Rolfe and will cooperate with prosecutors, Howard said.
Howard said both men had agreed to surrender to authorities by Thursday.
Brosnan’s role as a cooperating witness against a fellow officer was rare in such investigations, Howard said.