ATLANTA (CBS46) – Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he has received death threats after the decision to indict former APD Officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan on felony murder charges. The threats come as D.A. Howard said he thinks the public wants to speed things up in the criminal justice system.
“What would generally happen is the case would sit there until the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) finished its investigation, and that takes about three months,” Howard said on The Rashad Richey Show Thursday morning. “It’s clear the public is saying that, ‘we don’t like that and that’s not the way it should go.’”
Howard announced multiple charges against Rolfe Wednesday for shooting Rayshard Brooks last Friday night. During his press conference Wednesday, Howard said his office spoke with three of the witnesses in the case, conducted interviews with seven other witnesses and reviewed eight videos -- two from APD body cam, two dash cam tapes, a witness surveillance tape and three citizens cell phone videos. Howard told Richey the videos helped his office expedite the arrests.
“Because of the videos that we received, the district attorney’s office was able to reach a conclusion in a much quicker fashion than before,” Howard said Thursday. “So rather than waiting for an indictment; we asked the Superior Court to issue arrest warrants. That’s what happened on yesterday. The arrest warrants were issued. But before they could be formally charged, right now under Georgia law, we have to wait until a grand jury is convened and then the case is presented to a grand jury.”
One of the more controversial elements Howard announced with the charges was that former APD Officer Devin Brosnan, who was also at the scene, had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Rolfe. Brosnan attorney later denied his client had entered into any agreement with the district attorney’s office and wasn’t a cooperating witness.
Howard said that is not the case and speculated others outside the case may be putting pressure on Brosnan.
“We interviewed Brosnan, I believe, on Tuesday night, no it would have been Monday night. We interviewed him. We received a statement from him; and I spoke with Don Samuels on Wednesday, shortly before the presentation took place,” Howard told Richey. “So, we stand by our representation and I’m just going to wait and see what happens as we move forward. But Reshad, we stand by the statements we made at that time.”
Howard continued, “I imagine, and this is just speculation, because I don’t know this exactly to be true, that Mr. Bronsan might be getting a lot of pressure and I think, maybe, what we’ve heard might be the result of that pressure.”
According to Howard, his office has a history of charging officers when they break the law. He said if they had not done that in the past, his move on Wednesday could be criticized as political, but, “I don’t think it’s political at all. I think what people might not understand is things are changing and I believe what the public is saying is we’d like to move at a faster pace.”
When asked about officers calling out sick on Wednesday night, Howard said it’s happened all over the country to police departments but questioned the move.
“It’s troubling that officers would abandon a post simply because they believe someone should not be prosecuted. But what I believe is that people are now beginning to see in full display, the sort of problems inherent in the criminal justice system,” Howard said on Richey’s show. “When we see the problems, I think it’s important to move and do something about it because it is ridiculous to think that simply because some officer leaves, we are simply going to stop prosecuting officers if they commit a crime.”
Howard indicated he would not back down from the threats he received and is “not in fear of my life,” and instead wanting to bring about change with the prosecution and his actions as district attorney.
I have received threats that if you look at some websites today, there’s some pretty unflattering things that people say about me. But that’s part of the job. It’s part of the change that is taking place. I don’t like it, it’s not something that I welcome, but I will not walk away from working with our community to bring about some significant change.”