A specially appointed prosecutor said Tuesday that two White Atlanta police officers who came into conflict with Rayshard Brooks acted appropriately during the 2020 interaction that resulted in the 27-year-old Black man’s fatal shooting.
Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fatally shot Brooks, and officer Devin Brosnan were confronted with a “quickly evolving” scenario when Brooks came charging and snatched one of their Tasers during a detainment attempt, according to Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Georgia Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council.
“We did not look at this with 20/20 hindsight. Given the quickly changing circumstances, was it objectively reasonable that he used deadly force? And we conclude it was,” Skandalakis said of Rolfe.
The shooting occurred amid country wide tensions and protests following the death of George Floyd underneath the knee of a Minneapolis cop less than three weeks prior.
Protests against Floyd’s death had primarily died down in Atlanta, but Brooks’ death sparked a new wave of anti-police brutality and racial injustice mass demonstrations, similar to those that followed the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Skandalakis thinks that context is crucial and acknowledges that interactions between police and the African American community can be “very volatile,” but he does not believe race was a factor in this case.
“This isn’t one of those cases,” he said. “This is a case in which the officers were willing to give Mr. Brooks every benefit of the doubt and, you know, unfortunately, by his actions, this is what happened.”
Following the decision of the special prosecutor, legal teams for the Brooks family informed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they intend to file a civil lawsuit against the officers involved.