US policeman faces murder charge over Rayshard Brooks shooting

US policeman faces murder charge over Rayshard Brooks shooting
Mr Rolfe conducted a sobriety test on Rayshard Brooks in the car park. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: A police officer who fatally shot a fleeing 27-year-old black man named Rayshard Brooks in the back last week in Atlanta, Georgia, will be charged with murder and assault, officials say.

Garrett Rolfe has already been fired. The former officer now faces 11 charges related to the death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Devin Brosnan, the other officer at the scene, will testify as a witness in the case, officials said.

The case comes amid US protests over racism and police killings of black Americans.

Lawmakers in Washington are currently debating new police reform laws.

This was the ninth time that an Atlanta police officer had been prosecuted for homicide, according to officials.

It is believed to be the first time a police officer would testify against a member of his own unit, though Mr Brosnan’s lawyer denied his client would be a witness in the case.

What happened?

Rayshard Brooks failed a sobriety test on 12 June after he was found asleep inside his car that was blocking a drive-through lane at a Wendy’s restaurant.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said on Wednesday that after pulling over his vehicle, the father-of-four appeared “slightly impaired, but his behaviour during this incident was almost jovial”.

Video shows him complying with officers for over 40 minutes as he consented to a weapons search and provided them with his identification details.

However, he began struggling when officers tried to handcuff him. The footage appears to show Mr Brooks punched Mr Rolfe, grabbed Mr Brosnan’s stun gun and turned back while fleeing to fire it at Mr Rolfe.

Mr Brooks suffered two gunshots to the back that caused blood loss and organ injuries. Investigators say, one police bullet also hit a witness’ vehicle, nearly killing the driver.

For over two minutes after Mr Brooks was shot, Mr Rolfe said: “I got him”, but neither officer provided medical attention as police are required to do, prosecutors said.

Garrett Rolfe (left) and Officer Devin Brosnan. Source: Police Handout

Instead, Mr Rolfe kicked Mr Brooks while he was on the ground, Mr Howard added.

Officer Brosnan will be charged with assault for allegedly standing on Mr Brooks’ shoulder as he lay dying. The has already been placed on administrative leave.

The district attorney said that they examined eight videos from the scene that showed Mr Brooks “displayed no aggressive behaviour during the 41 minutes and 17 seconds” that he was questioned, and posed no physical risk to the officers in that time.

Investigators say, Mr Brooks was 18ft (5.5m) from the officers when he was shot twice in the back.

Mr Howard said: “I believe that at the time of the shooting, Mr Brooks did not represent a threat,” noting that police rules prohibit firing a Taser at a fleeing suspect.

You may read: Autopsy report says Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back