The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks can be free on bond while his case is pending, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick set a bond of US$500,000 for Garrett Rolfe, who faces charges including felony murder in the killing of Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man. The shooting by the white officer happened against the backdrop of demonstrations nationwide over police brutality and systemic racism after George Floyd died under a Minneapolis officer’s knee.
Appearing via teleconference because of the coronavirus, lawyers for Rolfe argued that he is a native Georgian with strong ties to the community who is not at risk of fleeing or failing to show up for court and is not a danger to the community. A prosecutor argued that Rolfe, 27, had committed an unjustified fatal shooting and was a flight risk and might intimidate witnesses.
Brooks’ wife, Tomika Miller, sobbed throughout an emotional plea to the judge, asking her not to grant bond for Rolfe.
“I say no to it,” she said. “I say no because, mentally, I’m not able to handle it.”
Barwick thanked Miller, noting that her appearance required a lot of bravery, but said she found that Rolfe met the conditions required for bond. The judge said Rolfe “is not a flight risk and I do not believe he is a danger to the community.”
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The conditions of his bond include wearing an ankle monitor, complying with a curfew, surrendering his passport, not possessing any guns and having no contact with victims, witnesses or Atlanta police officers.
Police body cameras showed Rolfe and another officer having a calm and respectful conversation with Brooks for more than 40 minutes after complaints that Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-thru lane on June 12.
But when officers told him he’d had too much to drink to be driving and tried to handcuff him, Brooks resisted. A struggle was caught on dash camera video. Brooks grabbed one of their Tasers and fled, firing the Taser at Rolfe as he ran away.
An autopsy found Brooks was shot twice in the back.
During Tuesday’s hearing, one of Rolfe’s attorneys, Noah Pines, denied the district attorney’s accusations that Rolfe shouted “I got him!” and kicked Brooks after shooting him. Pines called on Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to release video of the alleged kick. Howard had made the allegations when he announced the charges five days after Brooks’ death.
Executive Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker said video footage shows Rolfe’s kick and a witness confirmed that it happened.