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Prosecutor In Atlanta To Announce Whether He Will File Charges In Brooks' Killing


A prosecutor in Atlanta today charged a former police officer with felony murder in last Friday's shooting of a black man in the back. Rayshard Brooks had fallen asleep behind the wheel in a Wendy's drive-through lane when officers showed up, suspected Brooks was drunk and called for help. After 41 minutes of questioning, Brooks ran, and he was shot. Stephannie Stokes of member station WABE in Atlanta was there for the announcement and joins us now.


STEPHANNIE STOKES, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

CHANG: So how did the prosecutor explain the way he reached this decision?

STOKES: Well, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard laid out the evidence in pretty careful detail. He said they have eight different videos - two from the officer's bodycams, two from their dashcams. There's the Wendy's surveillance video, and there's also cellphone videos taken by people on the scene. And he said the 41 minutes that led up to that shooting - in those minutes, Rayshard Brooks was calm. He was almost jovial. He said he was cordial with the officers.

But once ex-Officer Garrett Rolfe tried to arrest him for DUI, there was a struggle. And that's when Brooks grabs one of the officers' tasers, and he runs. Rolfe chases after him, and there is a point when Brooks turns to point the taser at the officer. And that's when Rolfe shoots him twice in the back from about 18 feet away.

So in addition to those videos, which we've already seen, District Attorney Paul Howard said footage afterwards show that Officer Rolfe actually kicked Brooks while he was - he'd been shot and he was lying on the ground and that for more than two minutes, neither officers offered any sort of medical help. Both of those officers were fired. I'm sorry. Rolfe - Officer Rolfe was fired the day after the shooting. And the other officer, Devin Brosnan, is now on administrative duty.

CHANG: Now, this was a pretty quick determination by the DA, considering the shooting happened just - what? - five days ago. Did he talk about the timing of the charge?

STOKES: Right. Yeah, it's extremely quick. There are other Atlanta police shootings from years ago that are still unresolved, and they're actually sitting with his office. Still, he said that this one was unique because of the number of videos they have showing the interaction, the witnesses who were at the Wendy's at the time. And he said that Officer Brosnan - the officer who was there but did not fire his gun - that he's actually cooperating with the prosecutors and plans to testify. And that's pretty unusual.

CHANG: Now, how have the family members of Rayshard Brooks reacted so far to this announcement?

STOKES: Well, the attorney for the family, Chris Stewart, was at the press conference. And here's some of what he had to say.


L CHRIS STEWART: So it's heartbreaking, but it is an attempt to redefine justice.

STOKES: He said they take no joy in the charges against the officers, but this is something that the family had called for. They wanted the officers to be arrested. Rayshard Brooks is the father of three daughters, and his wife has done interviews saying the shooting has upended her family.

CHANG: And real quick in the few seconds we have left, have either officer responded to these charges yet?

STOKES: Yes, both of them say that the district attorney is really rushing to misjudgment and that he hasn't even waited for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to complete its own independent investigation.

CHANG: All right. That's Stephannie Stokes of member station WABE in Atlanta.

Thank you.

STOKES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephannie Stokes is a producer at WABE’s features desk. The title, “producer,” can mean a lot of things, but her focus is on telling stories. On WABE, you might hear her reporting about a lesser known part of Atlanta’s history, while another day you might catch a sound portrait she produced about a person or place in the region.