Atlanta, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- Georgia authorities on Wednesday filed murder charges against the police officer who shot 27-year-old African American Rayshard Brooks to death at a Wendy’s restaurant last weekend, a case that has intensified the wave of outrage over police brutality and killings in the US.
Garrett Rolfe, a white 27-year-old police officer, was charged with 11 counts in all – including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon – and if found guilty he could face life in prison or the death penalty, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced at a press conference.
“We’ve concluded at the time that Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death” to the two officers, he said.
After shooting Brooks twice in the back, Rolfe kicked him when he was lying on the grond and did not request medical attention, in violation of police regulations, said Howard, who added that the officer also did not inform his victim why he was being placed under arrest for driving under the influence.
Devin Brosnan, the other officer who accompanied Rolfe, was accused of aggravated assault for allegedly standing on the shoulder of Brooks as he lay dying on the pavement, but he has agreed to testify against his partner, Howard said.
The district attorney said that he decided to file charges against Rolfe, who was fired from the Atlanta Police Department, after analyzing several security camera videos and bodycam videos from the involved officers, and reviewing the testimony of numerous witnesses, as well as ballistics tests and the results of the autopsy on Brooke.
“We concluded and considered as one of our important considerations that Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat,” Howard said. “For 41 minutes and 17 seconds (before Rolfe tried to handcuff him), he followed their instruction, he answered the questions.”
The incident occurred last Friday night after police were summoned to the Wendy’s parking lot, where Brooks was found to be asleep in his car, which was blocking the restaurant’s drive-through lane.
After holding a lengthy conversation with the officers, Brooke allegedly resisted arrest for being drunk and managed to grab Rolfe’s Taser and tried to flee before the officer opened fire.
The case has heightened tensions across the country, adding to the wave of protests as yet another incident of police brutality that spiraled out of control to the point where a white officer killed a black man in a seemingly disproportionate escalation of force.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned immediately after the incident because public.