The Atlanta police officer who shot and killed 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s parking lot last week had received a written reprimand in 2017 for use of force involving a firearm, according to his disciplinary records.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the disciplinary histories of both officers involved in Brooks’ killing. Garrett Rolfe, the 27-year-old cop who fired at Brooks, had worked with the Atlanta Police for more than seven years. In that time, his file shows at least 13 incidents of complaints and alleged misconduct, including a 2016 use of force complaint in which Rolfe used his firearm.
As the AJC notes, the documents do not provide much detail, making the circumstances of the incident unclear. What is shared is that Rolfe received a written reprimand for the 2016 complaint the following year.
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His file showed 12 other incidents, varying from vehicle accidents to citizens’ complaints. He was exonerated in nine of those internal investigations.
Two of the other incidents, which were both vehicle accidents, led to a written reprimand and an oral admonishment. An incident involving the discharge of a firearm in 2015 did not have a conclusion listed in his documents.
“I could have told people, ‘I guarantee you this officer has had issues in the past.’ It’s normally that situation,” L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks’ family told CNN on Monday night. “You know who causes issues or who has had prior issues or who has [had] complaints. A lot of them don’t get justified and then they stay on the force.”
“So, it wasn’t a surprise,” he added.
Rolfe gunned down Brooks at an Atlanta Wendy’s late on June 12. A restaurant employee called the police because of a car “parked dead in the middle of the drive-thru,” according to a recently released 911 call. She found Brooks asleep at the wheel and tried unsuccessfully to wake him up.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” she told dispatchers.
Brooks chatted with police calmly for 20 minutes and took a breathalyzer test, bodycam footage shows. But Brooks failed the test, after which officers tried to take him into custody. A struggle ensued over an officer’s Taser, which Brooks grabbed before fleeing the police. Rolfe fired his weapon at the retreating Brooks in response. A medical examiner confirmed that Brooks was shot twice in the back.
Brooks was the father of three young girls ages 1, 2, and 8, as well as a 13-year-old stepson. According to Brooks’ family attorneys, Brooks was killed the night before his eldest daughter’s birthday party. Before the family was informed of Brooks’ death, his daughter waited for her father in her party dress, CNN reports.
“There is no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what’s been done,” Brooks’ wife, Tomika Miller said in a Monday news conference. “I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. I can never tell my daughter, ‘He’s coming to take you skating or [to] swimming lessons.’”
The second Atlanta police officer on the scene of the Wendy’s shooting, Devin Brosnan, wasn’t shown to have a disciplinary history. Brosnan was placed on administrative duty, while Rolfe has been fired. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned the day after Brooks’ shooting.
Protesters in Atlanta and around the country have added Brooks’ name to a lengthy list of victims of police brutality or vigilante violence. The Wendy’s where Brooks died was set ablaze on Saturday, with protests demanding accountability in his death swelling over the weekend and into Monday.
Among the demonstrators on Monday was Atlanta Hawks head coach, Lloyd Pierce.
“I know one day I’ll die a black man...but I don’t want to die because I’m a black man,” Lloyd told the demonstrators.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. says charges could come as soon as Wednesday, June 17. The District Attorney’s office is looking at charges ranging from voluntary manslaughter to murder.
“If this had been a civilian, there’s a possibility charges would have been lodged against them already,” he said. “What I think people around the country are saying is ‘we want one system so that both the police and citizens are treated equally.’ That’s what we are hoping to do by making our decision on Wednesday.”