My colleague Shipwreckedcrew reported yesterday on the recent reinstatement of fired police officer Garrett Rolfe to the Atlanta PD.
The decision to reinstate Rolfe, who was fired in the aftermath of the officer-involved shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot last June, was made by Atlanta’s Civil Service Board, which ruled that Rolfe’s employment was terminated by former Atlanta police chief Erika Shields without him being given the benefit of due process.
Rolfe had sued the city of Atlanta over the issue in August.
In the aftermath of Brooks’ shooting death, riots broke out at the Wendy’s and elsewhere. The restaurant was destroyed and rioters made its parking lot a “home base” of sorts for their occupation over the next several weeks, which led to the fatal shooting of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was killed after rioters opened fire on a car that made a wrong turn near the Wendy’s parking lot in early July 2020.
In response to the news of the Civil Service Board’s ruling, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) issued a statement defending the decision to terminate Rolfe’s employment at the time, and it was – quite frankly – one of the most embarrassing justifications I’ve ever seen a so-called “leader” give for this type of knee-jerk decision:
“Given the volatile state of our city and nation last summer, the decision to terminate this officer, after he fatally shot Mr. Brooks in the back, was the right thing to do,” she said. “Had immediate action not been taken, I firmly believe that the public safety crisis we experienced during that time would have been significantly worse.”
In other words, the decision to kick Rolfe off the police force rather than give him due process was done in an effort to appease mobs of violent rioters so they wouldn’t get more violent or something.
So how exactly did that work out for Mayor Bottoms? As noted above, a child was murdered by rioters who were “protecting” the parking lot, and others were shot in the area as well in weeks following Brooks’ death – all because Bottoms refused to have the Wendy’s parking lot cleared and opposed measures eventually carried out by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to get the situation under control.
Bottoms announced today that she would not be running for reelection. As far as I’m concerned, she should have resigned after her disgraceful performance last year post-riots. She exhibited extremely poor leadership in response to the death of Brooks, choosing to punish the officer who fired the fatal shot without giving him due process while ignoring rioters who were meting out “street justice,” which included killing children.
As a result, the residents of her city – including an innocent child and numerous others who got caught in the middle of a staggeringly violent crime wave, paid the price.
What should dictate decisions by leaders is the rule of law, not mob rule. When the latter replaces the former, it all falls apart. As far as I’m concerned, Bottoms’ announcement today is good news for Atlanta.
Though Officer Rolfe has been reinstated and will be given back pay, he is still suspended and still faces a felony murder charge.