“#DA in Rayshard Brooks case accused of setting Atlanta up for ‘another riot’”
June 19, 2020 | 12:52pm | Updated June 19, 2020 | 1:59pm
Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr.
John Edwards, executive director of the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, is accusing Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard of rushing to judgment in charging Garrett Rolfe with 11 counts, including felony murder, in the June 12 death of Brooks, 27.
“No use of force is ever pretty, and the courts don’t judge use of force on whether it’s right or wrong,” Edwards told the Daily Mail. “They judge it on whether it’s reasonable. It’s complex, it’s contextual and it takes times for investigators to see through all the witnesses, all the evidence, all the totality of the facts and circumstances.”
Edwards continued: “And then they have to be objective — not feeling before thinking — when they are making a decision that affects so many people’s lives. That has to been based on evidence and not the politics or the flavor of the day.”
Edwards, a four-decade law enforcement official, accused Howard of “jumping ahead” of an ongoing Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into the shooting that led protesters to set fire to a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant after Brooks died in the parking lot.
“Let’s say this case that Paul Howard has spun goes to trial,” Edwards continued. “Twelve good men and women now look at this and say, ‘There’s no way I’m convicting on that.’ Paul Howard has just successfully set up the city for another riot.”
GBI officials said in a statement Wednesday after Howard’s charging announcement that the agency was unaware of the district attorney’s press conference before it happened.
“We were not consulted on the charges filed by the district attorney,” the agency said. “Despite today’s occurrence, the GBI will complete its mission of completing an impartial and thorough incident and we will submit the file, once completed, to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.”
Rolfe, 27, surrendered to authorities Thursday and remains held without bond. A second officer involved in the incident, Devin Brosnan, 26, who was charged with aggravated assault, also surrendered Thursday and was later released on bond.
Rolfe, who could face the death penalty if convicted, was fired hours after the shooting, while Brosnan was put on administrative leave, police said.
Edwards, meanwhile, said he was stunned by how fast Howard — who is facing a primary runoff set for August — made the charging determination.
“In any use-of-force investigation, you gather facts, you look at video, you talk to the witnesses, you look at the autopsy evidence, you get the toxicology back, the psychology reports … you take time to get the totality of the facts and circumstances,” Edwards said. “Then you sit down and you don’t make rushes to judge. I have never seen a situation when a DA who’s running for election jumps ahead of the agency working a case.”
A message seeking comment from Howard’s office was not immediately returned.
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