Newly released records from the Atlanta Police Department show that officer Garrett Rolfe had several citizen complaints filed against him before he shot and killed Rayshard Brooks on Friday. Brooks' tragic death has amplified calls for extreme police reform around the country, and activists say that Rolfe's record is a clear example of why. Many believe that a cop with his reputation should not have been on the street with a gun by this point.
Rolfe was fired from the APD after shooting and killing Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot late on Friday night. He had been with the force since 2013, and according to a report by CNN, there had already been several formal complaints against him. All of the records of these citizen complains come with notes indicating that no disciplinary action was taken against Rolfe, except for one written reprimand issued a year after a use of force complaint was filed in 2016. Now, Brooks' family and their attorney say that the APD put Brooks in danger by allowing Rolfe to continue patrolling the streets.
"I could have told people, 'I guarantee you this officer has had issues in the past.' It's normally that situation," said Brooks family attorney L. Chris Stewart. "You know who causes issues or who has had prior issues or who has had complaints. A lot of them don't get justified and then they stay on the force. So it wasn't a surprise."
So far, the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Police Foundation have not responded to requests for comment or more information on these records from journalists. Neither Rolfe nor the other officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, have commented publicly either. Brosnan was placed on administrative duty when Rolfe was fired.
Some activists and pundits say it is a sign that the pressure from protests is working that Rolfe was fired — and that he was fired so soon after the shooting. Rolfe was terminated on Saturday, shortly after Police Chief Erika Shields announced that she was resigning from her post.
Still, some critics of the protests are drawing a line between Brooks' case and those of other unarmed Black Americans killed by police, such as George Floyd. Many others say that regardless of Brooks' actions — snatching a taser and attempting to flee — there was no cause for deadly force. "I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Saturday.
Brooks' family is calling for murder charges to be brought against Rolfe in order for true justice to be served. Activists are now calling to "defund the police" in Atlanta, as other cities demand the same.