Former officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan of the Atlanta Police Department have been charged with the murder of Rayshard Brooks. Rolfe shot Brooks on Friday in a Wendy's parking lot for the alleged crime of resisting arrest. The shooting fueled protests, public outrage and some massive changes within the APD.
Rolfe has been hit with 11 charges over the death of Brooks, including felony murder, the Fulton County D.A. announced on Wednesday. Brosnan faces lesser charges of aggravated assault and violating his oath of office. The two responded to a call about Brooks at around 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 12. They found Brooks asleep in his car, which was blocking the drive-thru lane at a Wendy's. Footage from their body cameras has circulated widely online, showing Brooks compliant with the officers, though intoxicated. Critics say that resistance on Brooks' part did not justify the use of deadly force, and Rolfe was fired from the department the next day. Brosnan was put on administrative leave.
Brooks' family, fellow Atlanta residents and activists around the country have been calling on the city to charge Rolfe with murder since the shooting took place. On Sunday, a county medical examiner ruled that Brooks' cause of death was a homicide. This term has a different meaning in the context of autopsies but can nonetheless help with getting a conviction in court.
Other public officials condemned Rolfe's shooting over the weekend as well. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said: "I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do. I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer."
Shortly after Rolfe was fired, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned from her post, though she will continue working with the department in some capacity. Shields hoped her resignation would serve as a sign that she is committed to real change in policing, and wants to work with the community.
Charges against Rolfe may be just the beginning of the changes in store for Atlanta's law enforcement system. According to a report by The New York Times, Bottoms announced her plan to "dramatically overhaul how the Police Department uses force" on Monday. The details of these changes are not completely clear yet, but many expect them to follow the template laid out by other cities currently agreeing to divert funding away from the police into other social programs.
Brooks is survived by a wife and four children, as well as a large extended family. His loved ones have been active in the public discourse since his death, calling on leaders to make a meaningful change so that his death will not have been in vain.