Former Atlanta officer facing Rayshard Brooks murder charge gets $250,000 legal-fee boost

A nonprofit organization says it has now raised $250,000 for former Atlanta officer Garrett Rolfe’s legal fees as he faces a felony murder charge in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.

The announcement from the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization on Thursday comes as the Atlanta Police Foundation – another support group for officers – revealed to WSB-TV that it will be paying a $500 bonus to each of the city’s cops. Atlanta’s police department had said Wednesday that a “higher than usual” number of officers called out of work after prosecutors announced charges in connection to Brooks’ June 12 death.

“I just got off the phone with Garrett and he is speechless at the amount of support you all are showing him!” Greg James, the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization’s founder, wrote in a Facebook post. “The fundraiser is currently sitting at $250,000 for his legal fees, so from all of us at Georgia Law Enforcement Organization and Officer Garrett Rolfe, THANK YOU for helping to restore faith in humanity in these very trying times that we’re living in!”

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The organization, in a separate Facebook post, accused the district attorney who charged Rolfe of using the officer “as a political pawn.”

The Atlanta Police Foundation, meanwhile, says the $500 bonus going to each officer Thursday adds up to around $2 million – all of which it has raised. They also will be purchasing 20 new police vehicles to replace those destroyed weeks ago during unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd, WSB-TV reports.

Brooks, 27, died after police were called to a Wendy's restaurant over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane. An officer found Brooks asleep behind the wheel, and a breath test showed he was intoxicated. Police body-camera video showed Brooks and officers having a long, relatively calm conversation before things turned violent when officers tried to handcuff him.

Officer Rolfe, who is white, shot Brooks after the 27-year-old black man grabbed a Taser and ran, firing it at the officer, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. But when the officer fired his gun, Brooks was too far ahead of him for the Taser to be a danger, and it had already been fired twice, so it was empty and no longer a threat, Howard said.

This screen grab taken from body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Rayshard Brooks speaking with Officer Garrett Rolfe in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant, late Friday, June 12, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP/Atlanta Police Department)

This screen grab taken from body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Rayshard Brooks speaking with Officer Garrett Rolfe in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant, late Friday, June 12, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP/Atlanta Police Department)

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“I got him!” Howard quoted Rolfe as saying.

Rolfe’s lawyers said he feared for his and others' safety and was justified in shooting Brooks. Rolfe opened fire after hearing a sound “like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him,” apparently from the Taser.

“Mr. Brooks violently attacked two officers and disarmed one of them. When Mr. Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, any officer would have reasonably believed that he intended to disarm, disable or seriously injure him,” the lawyers said in a statement.

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The felony murder charge against Rolfe, 27, carries life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors decide to seek it. In addition to that, he was charged with 10 other offenses punishable by decades behind bars.

Prosecutors also announced charges of aggravated assault and violation of his oath against a second officer, Devin Brosnan, who the district attorney said stood on Brooks' shoulder as he struggled for his life.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.