Original Author: Christopher Berg
Atlanta, GA – The Police Tribune has confirmed with International Brotherhood of Police Southeast Regional Director Vince Champion that Atlanta police officers are walking off the job Wednesday night.
The walkout started shortly after Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced 11 charges against now-fired Officer Garrett Rolfe, and three charges against Officer Devin Brosnan for the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks June 12.
Rolfe has been charged with seven felonies, including murder, in connection with the shooting.
The charges can carry the death penalty, according to Fox News.
Rumors started almost immediately after Howard’s press conference ended that officers were walking off of the job.
The department’s scanner activity was silent throughout much of the city as the rumors continued in law enforcement circles and right-wing Twitter.
The Police Tribune has confirmed that the walkout is real.
“We don’t know the exact number – I’ve heard different stories. But we’ve heard that in at least three zones, the officers have actually walked out – we don’t know the number. We‘ve heard that in one precinct, the officers are in the precinct building but will not come out unless an officer calls for assistance,” Champion told The Police Tribune.
“We are also hearing that some precincts are reporting that officers are just sitting in their POVs [personally-owned vehicles] in the parking lot,” Champion said. “The other thing is the city has already tried to reach out that I know of to two counties right adjacent to us – Cobb County and Gwinnett County – and those counties have said no, they won’t help. They’re not going to put their officers at risk of being fired or arrested.”
Nearby agencies already pulled their officers out of Atlanta during the riots early in June following the charges against six officers stemming from the tasing of two college students who drove away from officers and resisted arrest.
“It’s really important to understand that the union did not call for what the officers are doing right now,” Champion clarified. “I’d love to be able to say we did, but we can’t call for that because if you do a ‘Blue Flu’ or something like that and walk away from your job – that can get you fired. The union would never ask for this. What you have is a group of officers who are fed up. They have tried every way – they tried the nice way, if you will. They tried to wait for an investigation. The GBI is still investigating this – why would Paul Howard think his investigation would trump the state investigation?”
“I’ve never seen anything this scary. The problem is what law enforcement is being told in the city of Atlanta right now is that even when you do your job as hard as it is, if they don’t like the way it looks they’ll fire you and attempt to put you in jail,” Champion said. “The felony murder that they want to charge this officer with is imprisonment without the chance of parole, so you’re in prison for the rest of your life.”
Champion then said that the charges against the officers are political.
“Paul Howard is up for reelection – he’s been here for many years so he should be good to go. But out of three in a runoff, he was second in votes. So he’s worried. He wants to get to the rioters for votes. He’s trying to show that he’s hard on crime by going after the officers – he’s trying to live off of prosecuting bad cops,” Champion said.
“But Paul Howard is also under investigation himself for sexual harassment and possible money laundering right now, so he’s also trying to direct the attention away from his own investigation and take himself out of the limelight,” Champion added.
After Howard’s press conference on charges, information started coming out which contradicted the information he released.
Howard claimed that Officer Brosnan agreed to testify against Rolfe, but Brosnan’s attorney says that isn’t true.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) also released a statement on their official Facebook page shortly after the district attorney’s press conference concluded that contradicted with what Howard had told reporters about acting in concert with the state investigative agency.
“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Atlanta Police Department on Friday night, June 12th, to investigate an officer involved shooting at the Wendy’s Restaurant on University Avenue,” the post read. “We are in the process of conducting this investigation. Although we have made significant progress in the case, we have not completed our work.”
“Our goal in every officer involved shooting case we are requested to review, is to complete a thorough, impartial investigation before we submit the file to the respective District Attorney’s Office,” the statement continued.
“The GBI was not aware of today’s press conference before it was conducted,” the agency wrote. “We were not consulted on the charges filed by the District Attorney. 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.”
At the press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Howard also announced three felony charges against Officer Brosnan including aggravated assault, but announced that Officer Brosnan had become a state’s witness and was prepared to testify against former Officer Rolfe.
The district attorney said Officer Brosnan was “one of the first police officers to actually indicate he is willing to testify against someone in his own department.”
Both men have been asked to turn themselves in before 6 p.m. on Thursday, and Howard said he would recommend that Officer Brosnan be released on a signature bond.
The district attorney said he would ask that Rolfe be held without bond.
Howard said investigators from the Atlanta police and the GBI had assisted in the review of eight videos, two police bodycams, two vehicle dashcams, Wendy’s surveillance video, and three cell phone videos, in addition to interviewing numerous witnesses who were at the scene.
The district attorney said they investigated the Tasers and talked to the company who manufactured them, and determined Rolfe knew that the Taser Brooks had stolen had already been fired twice when he shot Brooks, meaning that he knew that Brooks was no longer a threat to him when he shot him.
“We have also concluded that the Taser in Brooks’ possession had been fired twice meaning it couldn’t be fired again and presented no threat to the officers,” he said.
Howard said “Mr. Brooks was calm, he was cordial” and “almost jovial” and that for 41 minutes and 17 seconds he followed instructions.
He said that neither Rolfe nor Officer Brosnan informed Brooks that he was under arrest for driving under the influence before they tried to arrest him, in violation of department procedure.
Bodycam shows at the time of arrest, Officer Rolfe told Brooks, “I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving, so put your hands behind your back for me.” That’s when Brooks started to fight the officers.
“We concluded and considered it as one of our important consideration that Mr. Brooks never presented himself as a threat,” Howard said.
Brooks “never displayed any aggressive behavior during the first 41 min and 17 seconds,” he said.
The district attorney said that officers violated department policy and violated their oath of office when they failed to provide timely medical attention to Brooks after he was shot.
It is not a crime to violate department policy.
Howard said videos showed the officers waited two minutes and 10 seconds before they rendered aid, and during that time “Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks while he was lying on the ground fighting for his life.”
“Officer Brosnan actually stood on Mr. Brooks shoulder while he was there struggling for his life,” the district attorney told reporters.
He said the demeanor of the officers after Brooks was shot reflected “other kinds of emotion.”
“We have concluded that at the time Mr. Brooks was shot. He did not pose any immediate threat to the officer or officer,” Howard said.
Howard said he had warrants for 11 charges against Rolfe, including felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, multiple counts of aggravated assault (including against people sitting in other vehicles struck by gunfire), criminal damage, and seven violations of his oath of office.
Officer Brosnan is facing three felony charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, he said.
Howard said that Officer Brosnan had said through his attorney that he was “plans to make a statement against Officer Rolfe;” however, he hadn’t been in the right psychological place to do so, yet.
The district attorney lauded Officer Brosnan’s decision to “break the wall of silence” and testify against a former fellow officer.
However, Officer Brosnan’s attorney asserted that was not true shortly after Howard made the announcement.
The statement from the GBI further undermined the credibility of the statements made by the district attorney at the charging press conference.