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Wednesday July 28th, 2021 10:01PM

New prosecutor appointed in shooting of Rayshard Brooks

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's attorney general announced Wednesday that he has appointed the head of a prosecutors' group to oversee the criminal case against the police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks.

Peter Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, will serve as substitute prosecutor in the case against Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, Attorney General Chris Carr's office said.

The council is a government agency that supports Georgia prosecutors and their staff, including by providing training and professional development. Carr's office described Skandalakis in a statement as a “well-respected, experienced prosecutor.”

Carr also announced a substitute prosecutor for a second high-profile case.

A judge last month granted a request by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to recuse herself from the case against Rolfe.

Willis, who took office in January, had argued that actions by her predecessor, Paul Howard, made it inappropriate for her office to handle the prosecution of Rolfe. She had asked a judge to determine who should handle the case after Carr twice rejected her requests to recuse herself.

Howard announced charges against Rolfe and another officer involved in the June 2020 confrontation with Brooks less than a week after the shooting. At the time, Howard was fighting to keep his job amid a Democratic primary challenge from Willis.

Howard’s conduct, “including using video evidence in campaign television advertisements,” may have violated Georgia Bar rules, Willis argued in a letter to Carr. She also noted that Carr had asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate whether Howard improperly issued grand jury subpoenas in the Rolfe case. Howard has said he did nothing wrong.

Police responded on June 12, 2020 to complaints that Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s restaurant. Police body camera video shows the 27-year-old Black man struggling with two white officers after they told him he’d had too much to drink to be driving and tried to arrest him. Brooks grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and fled, firing it at Rolfe as he ran. An autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.

Rolfe has been charged with murder and other offenses. The other officer, Devin Brosnan, was charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath. Skandalakis will also oversee his prosecution.

Lawyers for both officers have said their clients acted appropriately. They are free on bond.

Rolfe was fired after the shooting but the Atlanta Civil Service Board reversed that dismissal in May. It found that the city failed to follow its own procedures for disciplinary actions.

Willis had also asked to be recused from the case against officers charged after Atlanta police pulled two college students from their car and hit them with stun guns while they were stuck in traffic caused by protests over George Floyd’s death. Carr said Wednesday he has appointed Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel as substitute prosecutor in that case.

Video of the May 2020 confrontation — shared widely online — shows officers shouting at Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, firing Tasers at them and dragging them from the car. The pair can be heard screaming and asking what they did wrong. They have sued the city.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Atlanta Civil Service Board reversed Rolfe's dismissal in May, not June.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
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