Garrett Rolfe, the fired Atlanta policeman who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks after a confrontation in a parking lot last June, was reinstated Wednesday after filing an appeal, saying he was terminated unjustly.
The city’s Civil Service Board voted to reinstate him saying procedures revolving around giving him due process were not followed. “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 said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Therefore, the Board grants the Appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD.”
The police department placed Rolfe on administrative leave. But since he was charged with murder in the Brooks case, he cannot go back on active duty as a condition of his bond which prohibits him from possessing a firearm or being around other police officers, his attorney Lance LoRusso told the AJC.
“The Civil Service Board (CSB) has reversed the termination of officer Garrett Rolfe only on the basis that they were not done in accordance with the Atlanta City Code,” said an APD statement to the media. “It is important to note that the CSB did not make a determination as to whether officer Rolfe violated Atlanta Police Department policies. In light of the CSB’s rulings, APD will conduct an assessment to determine if additional investigative actions are needed.”
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Rolfe, 28, who is white, came across Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man who was found asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru line last June 12 after a night of drinking.
Their interaction, caught on bodycam video, was at first calm, but quickly transformed once Rolfe tried to handcuff Brooks. After an attempt to taser Brooks failed and skirmish with Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, the other officer at the scene, Rolfe opened fire on Brooks as he ran away.
Rolfe was fired the next day and charged by the then-Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Paul Howard with 11 counts including felony murder later that same week.
"We are very excited that the Civil Board says that due process matters," LoRusso said in a statement to CNN, adding that he will work to get him back to full duty.
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Meanwhile, the status of Rolfe’s murder case is unclear. Although Howard charged him, his successor Fani Willis, reportedly tried to have the case moved to a new prosecutor, alleging her predecessor mishandled the case. A judge ruled that it must stay with her office.
Willis is attempting to convince Georgia judicial authorities that her office should be recused from the case. She is due in court to argue her point in May. Although Rolfe is free on bond, it may not be known until Willis’ case is decided if a trial will proceed.
Photo: APD Bodycam Screengrab