America's Gonna America: Atlanta Cop Who Was Fired for Fatally Shooting Rayshard Brooks Has Been Reinstated

Illustration for article titled America's Gonna America: Atlanta Cop Who Was Fired for Fatally Shooting Rayshard Brooks Has Been Reinstated
Photo: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office (AP)

To me, the saddest part of the Derek Chauvin verdict was that it felt, and continues to feel, like such an anomaly. It is incredibly hard to hold cops accountable for their actions because America agreed a long time ago that brutality and murder are OK as long you do it behind a badge. Think I’m being hyperbolic? Well, the Atlanta cop who was fired in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks has been reinstated.


According to ABC News, Garrett Rolfe was reinstated to the force by Atlanta’s Civil Service Board. Last June, Rolfe responded to a call about a man who was passed out in his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. The first officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, attempted to wake up Brooks by tapping on the window but was unsuccessful. They eventually woke Brooks up, and after speaking to him for a short while a struggle occurred as they attempted to arrest him. Brooks managed to grab Brosnan’s stun gun and attempted to run off before Rolfe fired multiple shots into Brooks’ back, killing him.

Brooks’ death occurred only two weeks after George Floyd died as a result of police violence, and only intensified the then-ongoing protests in Atlanta. Rolfe was fired shortly after the shooting and has been charged with felony murder.


From ABC News:

Rolfe appealed his firing and Atlanta’s Civil Service Board ruled on Wednesday that “due to the City’s failure to comply with several provisions of the Code and the information received during witnesses’ testimony,” Rolfe “was not afforded his right to due process.”

Lance LoRusso, who represented Rolfe in his appeal, told The Atlanta Journal Constitution that Rolfe will “essentially be on administrative leave pending the outcome of the charges.”

The Board noted that Rolfe did not receive a 10-day notice of his termination, which took effect June 14.

According to the city’s code, “An employee against whom an adverse action is to be taken shall be given a written notice of proposed adverse action, signed by the appointing authority or designee, at least ten working days prior to the effective date of the proposed adverse action.”

Essentially, the Service Board said “Sure he allegedly killed a man, but you guys didn’t wait the customary 10 days to fire him, so our hands are tied.” It circles back to just how hard it is to punish a cop. I guess I just thought being seen on camera shooting someone, and then getting charged with a crime over that shooting, would be enough for any employer to be within their rights to fire someone, 10-day notice be damned.

LoRusso told reporters that this was the first step towards vindicating his client. “Officer Rolfe was entitled, both as an officer and a citizen, to respond to Rayshard Brooks’ aggravated assault with deadly force,” LoRusso said in a press release. Yes folks, he was “entitled” to take Brooks’ life.


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Last year Business Insider ran a story on the problems with dismissing bad cops from police forces. And they could have written the playbook for what is happening here. The city didn’t follow the rules for dismissing a cop.

The politicians jumped in and fired him to “show they were doing something”, and broke rules they agreed on in the union contract. He sued, saying over this. The arbitrator said “too bad, so sad, you have to keep him on and give him his back pay”.

The unions negotiate some seriously batshit crazy rules for dismissing and punishing their members. So when you hear some politician talking about how things need to be done faster like in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota — Think twice. If Potter hadn’t resigned, and the mayor had fired her as he said he was going to — he would likely have violated some rules. And an arbitrator would have come back saying she was owed money and benefits because of that. Even if she is found guilty, because the improper termination would have occurred before the conviction.

How do we fight this shit? First, we tell our city leaders to stop agreeing to this crap in the contracts they sign. And if when the contracts are signed, if it is still in there — start a recall election and vote their ass out right then and there. This stuff is not in the city code, it is in the union contracts that are negotiated every few years.