What exactly does it take for people to admit the Rayshard Brooks case is more complex than the narrative of a white cop shooting a black man?
The only thing that people care about involving Brooks’ fatal shooting in Atlanta on June 12 is that it fits into the prevailing narrative of police violence against black individuals.
This was a man who resisted arrest, stole a police taser, and appeared to be trying to shoot it at an officer when he was killed. The two police officers involved in the incident were charged by a district attorney who, many speculate, is using the case to wallpaper over his multifarious political problems. And that’s ignoring the crimes that Rayshard Brooks would have been charged with had he lived.
In a tweet on Monday, podcaster and attorney Philip Holloway revealed that the Atlanta detective who’d been assigned to investigate the case would have recommended Brooks be charged with 10 counts of seven different crimes, including aggravated assault against a police officer, battery against a police officer and robbery.
That assessment was included in a defense filing by Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Rolfe, 27, was released on bail on Wednesday, another controversial decision with the media and anti-police activists. Brooks’ widow wanted him held without bail.
“[Officer Rolfe] has already shown he’s a danger to the community. The way he stood over my husband and kicked his body, and I can only imagine what he felt and how scared he was at that time,” Tomika Miller said, according to CNN.
“Killing him wasn’t enough. They stood there when something could’ve been done to save him.”
Rolfe’s attorneys, meanwhile, argued he wasn’t a risk.
“He is a longstanding, law-abiding member of this community who will stay here to fight this case,” attorneys Noah Pine and Bill Thomas said in court filings, The AJC reported.
Arguing that Rolfe acted in self-defense, they said that “there is significant evidence that proves he was legally justified in using deadly force in this case.”
Judge Jane C. Barwick sided with the defense, saying that the former Atlanta police officer didn’t present a risk to the community and imposing bail of $500,000. Rolfe, who faces felony murder and five aggravated assault charges, will have to wear an electronic bracelet and was required to surrender his passport. He also cannot have access to any weapons.
The case has been a matter of contention on social media — in particular from black conservatives, several of whom have been vocal about their issues with the charges against Rolfe.
“Black Lives Matter doesn’t care about facts though so let’s burn down Atlanta (a black city) and throw Brooks SIX state funerals!” she continued. “You are all clowns.”
Owens also lamented the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and expressed displeasure over her perception that the black community was being associated with riots:
Larry Elder, meanwhile, noted that “the cop was required to arrest him, required to make sure he doesn’t get back in the car, required to have the car impounded.”
And then there’s the matter of the crimes that Brooks would have been charged with, written in a June 21 memo by Detective Al Hogan, the Atlanta homicide detective who was sent out to investigate the shooting while Brooks was still alive.
In the memo, Hogan says he would have charged Brooks with two counts of felony obstruction, two counts of aggravated assault against a police officer, two counts of battery against a police officer, DUI, theft by taking, removal of a weapon from a public official and robbery.
“My investigation showed that [Rayshard] Brooks’s behavior did in fact warrant several criminal charges, but before I was able to pursue the charges I was informed that [Rayshard] Brooks had died, negating the necessity for that portion of my investigation,” he wrote.
That’s a pretty extensive list and a good idea of what police were dealing with.
And then there’s also the problematic element of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, who’s fighting for his political life. Howard, who’s running for a seventh term, finished behind former assistant Fani Willis in a primary held in early June. Since neither candidate got the required 50 percent — according to CNN, Willis got 42 percent compared to Howard’s 35 percent — the race goes to a runoff in August.
The Georgia Sheriff’s Association called the charges against Wolfe and his partner, Devin Brosnan, a “grandstanding vote-seeking tactic,” arguing they were “more about [Howard’s] re-election than justice for the officers involved, the Atlanta Police Department and the citizens of our state.”
Part of the problem rests in ethics violations against Howard, who allegedly didn’t disclose he was augmenting his salary with positions atop two nonprofits.
In short, the Rayshard Brooks case is a complicated one. It doesn’t fit easily into the narrative — but darned if the media isn’t going to try as hard as possible to fit it in their box.
If this case goes to trial, however — and it almost certainly appears destined for that — these facts are going to come out.
The jury might indeed find the officers guilty, but it’s not going to be quite as straightforward than the white-cop-black-man narrative the media desperately wants to portray this as.