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The fired Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks says he was unjustly terminated and wants to be reinstated, even as faces charges in the shooting.
Officer Garrett Rolfe was sacked “without a proper investigation” his lawyer Lance LoRusso said last week, and he has been arguing to the city’s civil service board to return to the department, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Last June 12, Rolfe attempted to arrest Brooks, 27, on suspicion of DUI when he was found asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru line. Their interaction, seen on video, was at first calm, but spun out of control when Rolfe tried to handcuff Brooks. After a skirmish with Rolfe and another officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, an attempt to taser Brooks failed. Rolfe opened fire on Brooks as he ran away.
Rolfe was fired the next day and charged by the then-Fulton County, Ga., district attorney Paul Howard with 11 counts including felony murder later that same week. The new D.A., Fani Willis, reportedly tried to have the case moved to a new prosecutor, alleging her predecessor mishandled the case. A judge ruled that it must stay with her office.
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LoRusso said that Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ quick movement toward firing Rolfe before he had a chance to mount a defense meant that his right to due process was “grossly violated.”
Sgt. William Dean, an internal affairs investigator with the Atlanta Police Department, said that a hearing where Rolfe would have been able to defend himself was moved to create space in the schedule for Bottoms’ press conference announcing his firing. Rolfe has said that he didn’t find out about this until just over an hour before that conference and he was more than an hour away from Atlanta.
But city attorney Allegra Lawrence-Hardy defended Rolfe’s firing, telling the AJC that city policy allows such a termination if his presence “impairs the effectiveness of others.”
“Keeping (Rolfe) active would’ve been extremely disruptive,” she said.
Meanwhile, Willis is attempting to convince Georgia judicial authorities that her office should be recused from the case. She is due in court to argue her point in May. Rolfe remains free on bond, but it remains unclear until Willis’ case is decided if the charges against him will proceed.