Brooks, 27, was examined for suspected drunk driving. According to police reports and videos from the scene, he was found sleeping in his car and failed an alcohol test. When two officers handcuffed him, he fought them off, took an officer's taser, and started to flee.
The shooting in the midst of nationwide protests calling for an end to police violence against blacks has already led to Rolfe & # 39; s dismissal and the police chief's resignation.
Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard said he would announce this week whether his office would indict officials, including potential murder, crime, or involuntary manslaughter.
Howard spoke to CNN on Sunday, not saying what he would decide, but asking the key question that his office must answer.
"In particular (the question is whether) Officer Rolfe, whether he felt that Mr. Brooks was at the time of immediate death or serious physical harm," he said. "Or the alternative is whether he fired the shot or not just to catch him or some other reason."
"If this shot was fired for any reason other than to save this officer's life or to prevent injuries to him or others, this shot is not legally justified."
What the Georgian law says
Georgian law allows a person to use lethal violence "only if he reasonably believes that violence is necessary to prevent death or serious physical injury to himself or a third person."
In addition, the Atlanta Police policy manual, which was updated last week, states that an officer can use lethal force if "he or she reasonably believes the suspect has a lethal weapon or item, device, or instrument, which, when used aggressively against a person, is likely or will cause serious physical harm and if he or she believes that the suspect poses an immediate risk of serious physical injury to the official or others. "
CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said the prosecutor's office will investigate three different questions: (1) whether the officer was immediately afraid of death or serious injury, (2) whether his use of force was proportionate to the threat, and (3) whether the official acted sensibly in these circumstances.
Prosecutors and juries have long given the police the benefit of the doubt in such shooting cases.
According to the Washington Post's Fatal Force Tracker, police in Georgia shot 182 people from 2015 to 2020. During this time, only one Georgian officer was charged with murder. In 2016, a large jury accused DeKalb County police officer Robert Olsen of killing a naked and unarmed U.S. Air Force veteran a year earlier. Olsen was acquitted of murder in his 2019 trial, but was convicted of serious physical harm. He made a false statement and two cases of oath violation. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
On Monday, Howard said he was aware of the criticism that there is a judicial system for the police and one for everyone else.
"We listen to you, we listen. We believe that the judicial system should be one standard, not two," he said.
Part of the legal decision is based on the type of weapon.
The taser is less lethal than a firearm, but can be fatal in certain circumstances. Amnesty International said that more than 500 people died in the United States "after being shocked with a taser either while arrested or in prison," according to a 2015 CNN story. Although Taser, the company that Number of deaths attributed to directly reported Taser is more like 60.
L. Chris Stewart, lawyer for Brooks’s family, said the video showed that the official’s life was not in imminent danger and compared the Taser to other less lethal options.
"It was a taser that falls into the pepper spray and truncheon categories. If it had pepper spray, should it have been shot?" he said.
It is not a hypothetical question. In 2016, a Bibb County, Georgia sheriff's representative shot and killed a 57-year-old man suspected of shoplifting and sprayed the officer with pepper spray during a confrontation. Investigators decided the shootout was justified, according to The Macon Telegraph.
Another lawyer from Brooks’s family, Justin Miller, said he didn’t think the shootout was justified, and he noticed that the surveillance video shows Officer Rolfe reaching for his gun before Brooks turned the taser .
"So he was going in that direction and in the direction of the lethal force before that taser pointed in his direction," Miller told CNN on Monday. "The taser didn't hit him. The taser goes off. He still decides to shoot him in the back while he runs away when there are again several options that he could have chosen that would not have resulted in death.
"We just don't think it was right and we don't think it was reasonable."
Adequate of Legal
Yet officials and legal experts have emphasized the difference between what is technically legal and what is appropriate in modern policing.
"There is a clear difference between what you can do and what you should do," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Saturday. "I don't think this was a justified use of lethal violence."
Cheryl Dorsey, a retired Los Angeles police sergeant, said fatal violence was the last resort. Wendy’s officials should have set up a perimeter, request support, and try to stem his escape instead of shooting him.
"If he leaves the area, you already know who he is. You have his driver's license and vehicle," she said. "There are so many other things the officers could have done, but bad tactics always result in bad shots."
She said the shootout was due to the intent to punish rather than fear.
"The officer was crazy because he took his taser," she said.
Jackson said the protesters had clarified their policing problem.
"There is a feeling that violence and lethal violence should be a last resort. It shouldn't go up and down on charges. It should go up and down whether anything else could have been done or not," he said.
"The problem they're marching for is why do you have to shoot first and ask questions later?"