Fired Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks reinstated

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe, charged with murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, has been reinstated to his job by the city’s Civil Service Board.

“Due to the city’s failure to comply with several provisions of the code and the information received during witnesses’ testimony, the Board concludes the appellant was not afforded his right to due process,” the board concluded. “Therefore, the board grants the appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD.”

Rolfe was fired last June one day after he shot Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot. It happened moments after Brooks scuffled with the officers as they tried to take him into custody for driving under the influence.

Body-camera videos showed Brooks struck one officer, Devin Brosnan, hard enough to cause a concussion, grabbed his Taser and aimed it at Rolfe, who then fired.

Fired officer who shot Rayshard Brooks reinstated

Brooks’ death led to widespread unrest in the city; the Wendy’s was torched and later razed.

One day after the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she had fired Rolfe, saying at the time, "I don't believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer." 

Within a week, then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard charged Rolfe with felony murder.

Brosnan, who wasn’t fired, faces lesser charges including aggravated assault.

On Wednesday, attorneys for the Brooks family blasted Mayor Bottoms and the Atlanta Police Department for failing to follow protocol when firing Officer Rolfe last June.

"We find it mind-boggling that our elected officials and the former chief weren’t aware of the proper procedure to fire an officer," said attorney L. Chris Stewart, "so now, there are questions of whether that was done to temporarily pacify the protestors and the people around the world who were upset." 

The Mayor Bottoms defended her actions in a statement, saying, “Given the volatile state of our city and nation last summer, the decision to terminate this officer, after he fatally shot Mr. Brooks in the back, was the right thing to do.” 

"It is sad for the family," said attorney Justin Miller who also represents the Brooks family. "They know the person who killed their loved one is out on the street, and there has been no adjudication of his guilt, and he’s there working still, and I think he’s going to receive back pay. Their loved one is still gone, and they have no resolution." 

Rolfe will not return to patrolling the streets. He will be on administrative leave pending the results of an internal hearing -- the hearing his attorney successfully argued should have been provided before any decision was made about his employment.

The Civil Service Board issued this statement:

The Civil Service Board (CSB) has reversed the termination of officer Garrett Rolfe only on the basis that it was not done in accordance with the Atlanta City Code. It is important to note that the CSB did not make a determination as to whether officer Rolfe violated Atlanta Police Department policies. In light of the CSB's rulings, APD will conduct an assessment to determine if additional investigative actions are needed.

Officer Rolfe has criminal charges related to this incident and will remain on administrative leave until those charges are resolved.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued the following statement:

Given the volatile state of our city and nation last summer, the decision to terminate this officer, after he fatally shot Mr. Brooks in the back, was the right thing to do. Had immediate action not been taken, I firmly believe that the public safety crisis we experienced during that time would have been significantly worse.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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