ATLANTA (CBS46) – Murder or felony murder. Those are the two charges Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said could fit former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe for the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks Friday night.
“There are really three charges that are relevant: one would be the murder charge in the state of Georgia. That charge is a charge that is directly related to an intent to kill,” Howard told CNN’s Frederica Whitfield Sunday afternoon. “The second charge is felony murder and that is a charge that involves a death that comes as a result of the commission of an underlying felony. In this case, that underlying felony would be aggravated assault.”
The Fulton County medical examiner on Sunday declared that Brooks died from multiple gunshot wounds. The autopsy confirmed that he sustained two gunshot wounds to his back, which caused injuries to his organs and led to blood loss. The manner of death: homicide.
Howard continued, “The only other charge that might make any sense at all would be some voluntary manslaughter charge. But I believe in this instance, what we have to choose between, if there’s a choice to be made, is between murder and felony murder.”
Rolfe was fired by Atlanta police fewer than 24 hours after the deadly shooting of Brooks in the parking lot of a Wendy’s in Atlanta. Police had been called to the scene because Brooks was asleep in his car and later found to be under the influence, police said. During a struggle, Brooks took an officer’s stun gun and ran. During the brief pursuit, Brooks allegedly turned toward the officer with the stun gun raised and Officer Rolfe fired his gun, killing Brooks. The entire incident was captured on multiple cameras from multiple angles.
“There’s one good thing about video,” Howard told CNN. “Because in the video, we actually get a chance to hear the officer’s first statement after the shooting took place. And what the officer said is not that his life was saved. What his statement was, is ‘I got him.’”
Howard continued, “If you believe that someone is firing at you with a deadly weapon, then you ask yourself questions. Would you attempt to take cover? Would you immediately proceed after that person? What we have the task of doing is adding all of those factors together and then reaching the correct legal conclusion.”
Howard’s office sent out an official statement late Sunday afternoon that stated in part:
“Because this is a homicide investigation, there are several technical requirements that must be met before we are able to reach a decision. That includes the confirmation of the ballistics involved and obtaining a preliminary report from the Medical Examiner. Additionally, my office received a referral from a local attorney who provided the names of two other witnesses who my office is working to speak with before making a decision. We are still experiencing some difficulty in obtaining all of the body cam and dash cam footage from the Atlanta Police Department. We are working around the clock to bring this investigation to a conclusion, and it is my hope to be able to announce our decision midweek.”