ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Attorneys for the family of Rayshard Brooks say they're taking action after the Civil Service Board decided to reinstate Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe. "We are going to be filing a lawsuit to make sure that the rights of our clients are protected," said Justin Miller, one of the attorneys representing the Brooks family.
Rolfe shot and killed Brooks during an arrest last June. "Right now, Officer Rolfe has received more justice than the family of Rayshard Brooks," said L. Chris Stewart, another Brooks family attorney. "African Americans in this country, when it comes to civil rights, don't want pacification. They want justice."
The board ruled the city failed to comply with several code provisions before firing Rolfe. City officials and APD acknowledged the decision and indicated:
The Civil Service Board (CSB) has reversed the termination of officer Garrett Rolfe only on the basis that it was not done in accordance with the Atlanta City Code. It is important to note that the CSB did not make a determination as to whether officer Rolfe violated Atlanta Police Department policies. In light of the CSB's rulings, APD will conduct an assessment to determine if additional investigative actions are needed.
Officer Rolfe has criminal charges related to this incident and will remain on administrative leave until those charges are resolved.
"We find it unbelievable that they didn't know about this process," Stewart said. "You have a person who is going to stand trial for murder who is now back on the force," said Miller.
The LoRusso Law Firm issued this statement from Rolfe's attorney, Lance LoRusso:
We are very pleased at this action and consider it the first step in the total vindication of Officer Garrett Rolfe.
The LoRusso firm also provided the following statement, which references APD Officer Devin Brosnan, the other officer involved in the incident:
The board relied on the testimony of an internal affairs sergeant, who noted that the process "seemed rushed," due to media attention. In his 25 years, it was the first time he had seen an APD officer terminated for an alleged firearm infraction without an investigation first, and he had no criticisms at all regarding Officer Rolfe's actions on June 12, 2020. An assistant chief with the City of Atlanta Police Department also testified that he had no criticisms of Officer Rolfe's conduct and actions on June 12, 2020. Because Rolfe was denied due process, his dismissal from APD was revoked. The entire hearing is available on YouTube.
Officer Rolfe has now won the opportunity to explain what happened on June 12. Rayshard Brooks assaulted him and Officer Brosnan, stole Officer Brosnan's taser, shot Officer Brosnan with the taser, ran, and shot at Officer Rolfe with Officer Brosnan's Taser. Officer Rolfe was entitled, both as an officer and a citizen, to respond to Rayshard's Brooks' aggravated assault with deadly force. Officer Rolfe continues to look forward to the opportunity to prove that his actions were legally justified.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued the following statement:
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. Had immediate action not been taken, I firmly believe that the public safety crisis we experienced during that time would have been significantly worse.
"So now it is questions, 'Was that done to temporarily pacify the protesters and the people around the world that were upset,'" said Stewart. "The mayor and the city came to the funeral of Rayshard Brooks and hugged the family and spoke about justice. But we don't want tokens of that. We want actual justice."
"No matter what happened in the incident, he has a family. And the family is being drug through the ringer right now," Miller said.
LoRusso confirmed the city is reinstating Rolfe with back pay. Stewart and Miller explained the criminal case can't move forward until a judge to decides whether the Fulton County District Attorney or State Attorney General will prosecute the case. "Right now, Officer Rolfe has received more justice than the family of Rayshard Brooks," Stewart said. "The City of Atlanta cannot be the alleged blueprint for civil rights for other cities and not fulfill that promise."
Stewart and Miller hope to find out if the city will fire Rolfe a second time and if city council will take any action.
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