ATLANTA — A release from the Georgia Sheriff's Association on Thursday evening denounced Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard for his decision to charge two Atlanta police officers involved in the death of Rayshard Brooks.
Former officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan were indicted by Howard on Wednesday for their role in Brooks' death, which occurred during a traffic stop last Friday night outside a Wendy's restaurant in southeast Atlanta.
During the incident, the two officers attempted to arrest Brooks, and the three men got into a scuffle. During the scuffle, Brooks was able to take the Taser from one of the officers, get up and begin to run off.
The two officers began to give chase through the parking lot, and during the chase, Rolfe shot and killed Brooks.
Following the shooting death of Brooks, the Atlanta Police Department requested an independent investigation from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is customary following officer-involved shootings.
Less than 24 hours later, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms requested that Rolfe be terminated from his position and that Brosnan be placed on administrative leave. In addition, Police Chief Erika Shields tendered her resignation from her position.
In a preliminary report, the GBI said that they were able to determine through surveillance video evidence that Brooks had turned and pointed the Taser at Rolfe, prompting him to fire his service weapon at Brooks, killing him. In a Sunday news conference, GBI Director Vic Reynolds said that their investigation was not complete and that once it was, it would be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office for review.
According to a release from the Sheriffs' Association, Howard "hastily conducted his own personal investigation before announcing he had secured warrants or the two officers."
The release goes on to point out that Howard is in the midst of a re-election campaign and calls his efforts -- including a nationally-televised mid-week news conference to announce charges against the two officers -- nothing short of a "grandstanding vote-seeking tactic."
"Howard has trampled on the rights of Officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan and has further allowed this tragic incident and has further allowed this tragic incident to be more about his re-election than justice for the officers involved, the Atlanta Police Department and the citizens of our state," the statement said. "The Sheriffs, through the Georgia Sheriffs' Association condemn these actions of District Attorney Paul Howard and urge the public to allow time for justice to be served through close examination of this tragic incident."
The release is signed by Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard as president of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association.
The group is comprised of the sheriffs of each of the state's 159 counties.
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