Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks last summer, has been reinstated to his job, apparently with back pay. The Atlanta Civil Service Board reinstated Rolfe. It stated:
Due to the City’s failure to comply with several provisions of the Code and the information received during witnesses’ testimony, the Board concludes the Appellant was not afforded his right to due process
The Board’s findings of fact support this conclusion. Rolfe received notice of his termination only about an hour before Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced it. By rule, he was entitled to 10 days in which to defend his actions before he could be sacked.
The Board did not reach the question of whether, on the merits, Rolfe should have been fired. It seems to me that, if the facts are as I understand them, Rolfe has a good argument that he should not have been. Brooks had attacked Rolfe when the officer tried to arrest him. He stole Rolfe’s taser and fired at Rolfe. Only then did Rolfe fire back with his gun.
Although Rolfe has his job back, he faces criminal charges for felony murder, aggravated assault, and violation of oath. The charges were brought by a desperate, corrupt prosecutor who hoped, in vain as it turned out, to avoid defeat in an upcoming election by prosecuting Rolfe.
The felony murder charge seems absurd, as Andy McCarthy has argued. The same is true of the underlying assault charge. When a suspect forcibly resists arrest, steals an arresting officer’s taser, and shoots at the officer with it, shooting back at the suspect is not aggravated assault. Or so it seems to me.
Rolfe hasn’t been demonized to the same degree as Derek Chauvin, and Brooks’ death did not cause Atlanta to burn the way George Floyd’s did in Minneapolis. Perhaps Rolfe will get a fair trial. If so, his chances of acquittal seem pretty good, I think.
In any event, he has won Round 1 by being reinstated as a police officer.