Board reverses termination of officer charged in Rayshard Brooks shooting death
ATLANTA - The Atlanta Civil Service Board voted to reverse the termination of Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks outside a southwest Atlanta fast-food restaurant last summer.
The Atlanta Civil Service Board concluded after reviewing the case that Rolfe was not afforded his right to due process and revoked his dismissal from the Atlanta Police Department.
"Due to the City’s failure to comply with several provisions of the Code and the information received during witnesses’ testimony, the Board concludes the Appellant was not afforded his right to due process. Therefore, the Board GRANTS the Appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD."
Rolfe appealed his termination and claimed the city wrongfully terminated him ask for his job back with back pay.
A hearing was held in April where the former officer evoked the Fifth Amendment and did not talk about the deadly shooting of the 27-year-old.
Video from the June 12 incident shows Brooks tussled with two officers when they tried to arrest him on suspected DUI charges. Brooks took one of the officer’s Tasers and then fired that Taser as he ran away. That is when Rolfe shot and killed Brooks.
Former Atlanta Police Department Chief Erika Shields filed a Notice of Proposed Adverse Action on behalf of APD the day following the shooting, the board said. Rolfe's termination from APD was announced on June 14.
The board's findings do not determine whether criminal actions took place on the night Brooks was killed.
During an April hearing, Rolfe's attorney Lance LoRusso argued the city did not follow protocols when officials took action against Rolfe.
"(The city) never gave him an opportunity to state his side of the case prior to terminating him, and that is required," LoRusso said.
Rolfe is currently on administrative leave, pending resolution of charges, and LoRusso said he is entitled to back pay dating back to June 12.
The panel cited violation of city code in its decision, which states, "An employee against whom an adverse action is to be taken shall be given a written notice of proposed adverse action, signed by the appointing authority or designee, at least ten working days prior to the effective date of the proposed adverse action."
The Atlanta Civil Service Board determined the city's actions did not supply evidence to confirm notice of emergency action, and thus did not comply with the required 10-day notice period.
Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks' family, said the family is disappointed by the news of Rolfe's reinstatement. He said the legal team agrees with Rolfe's attorneys regarding the city's procedural shortcomings and finds it "mind-boggling" city officials weren't aware of the proper procedure to fire an officer.
The city responded with a statement and comments from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The statement emphasized the board did not make a determination whether or not Rolfe violated APD policies, and the department will assess whether it's necessary to launch an additional investigation.
"Given the volatile state of our city and nation last summer, the decision to terminate this officer, after he fatally shot Mr. Brooks in the back, was the right thing to do," Bottoms said. "Had immediate action not been taken, I firmly believe that the public safety crisis we experienced during that time would have been significantly worse."
Stewart said the city's actions in the aftermath of Brooks' death seemed to be pacifying in nature. Stewart said the Black community doesn't want temporary pacification, they want permanent justice.
"Right now officer Rolfe has received more justice than the family of Rayshard Brooks," Stewart said.
Two other officers, Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, were both reinstated in February.
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