It was nothing short of shocking to hear that the Atlanta Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced 11 charges — including felony murder — against now-fired officer Garrett Rolfe in the killing of Rayshard Brooks, a man found apparently drunk and unresponsive in the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant in SW Atlanta on Friday, June 12th.
But it becomes less shocking when one considers Howard’s current troubles as DA for Fulton County while he faces an election in which he is already several point behind his opponent.
What made the charges particularly shocking was that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation — considered by both law enforcement and many Atlanta residents to be respectable and fair in their work — had not even concluded their investigation before Howard brought charges, a move that a lawyer for the second officer involved, who has also been charged with aggravated assault, a “rush to misjudgement.”
[Officer Devin] Brosnan’s attorney called Howard’s decision to initiate charges “irrational.”
“This was not a rush to judgment. This was a rush to misjudgment. Shame on the District Attorney for this abuse of his charging power. Shame on the District Attorney for not honoring his oath to uphold the constitution. Shame on the District Attorney for this rush to misjudgment,” the statement read.
Despite today’s occurrence, the GBI will complete its mission of completing an impartial and thorough investigation of this incident and we will submit the file, once completed, to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. (2/2)
Full statement ⬇️:https://t.co/Cfnboi9DCu
— GA Bureau of Investigation (@GBI_GA) June 17, 2020
It doesn’t take a legal expert to know that the DA is acting wildly irresponsibly in this case, especially given the video evidence that exists that at the very least makes it nearly impossible to believe a felony murder charge would ever stick, much less end in a conviction. Dan Horowitz at Conservative Review shared a piece he wrote on June 11 — one day before the Brooks killing and after Howard had helped the Atlanta mayor fire 6 policemen for pulling two students from their car during the days-long riots in downtown Atlanta — that may explain why Howard is behaving the way he is. He’s facing his own mountain of trouble, and an election that doesn’t look likely to result in a win for him.
Howard is already under investigation for two sexual harassment lawsuits as well as a corruption scandal. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations recently launched an investigation into allegations that Howard pocketed funds meant for fighting gang violence in order to supplement his salary by $170,000 after his request for a salary increase was initially rebuffed by the city government. He is being accused by a former administrator and paralegal in his office of sexual harassment and misconduct, as well as 12 public disclosure violations. No wonder he is such a proponent of going soft on crime!
Well, facing these allegations, despite his six terms in office, Howard was taking no chances of losing his bid for re-election. He launched an unprecedented prosecution against six Atlanta cops, alleging they criminally assaulted two black students near a protest by dragging them out of their car for no reason and tasing them during rioting on the night of May 30. All the officers were fired and are now facing criminal charges. Howard issued arrest warrants for all six and charged four of them with aggravated assault. Five of the six are African-American.
Except, according to the lawyer for two of the cops, the video was edited, as is often the case in the war on cops. Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s show Tuesday night, Lance LoRusso, the lawyer for Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, two of the African-American officers fired and prosecuted, claimed the video was “edited multiple times.”
It’s possible Howard is using the extreme charges against the Atlanta policemen involved in the Brooks incident to distract from his own growing legal troubles; and maybe even win him a few extra points in the coming election from those in the community who see officer abuse in every interaction with police.
If that’s the case, that’s politicizing the death of one man and the lives of two others who had carried out the job they’re expected to do based on their training. And it’s despicable.
If Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has any kind of love for her community and the men who protect it — who by the way have basically mutinied — and if she wants to win her own upcoming election in 2021, she’ll move to request Howard be reprimanded if not outright disbarred. Immediately.