U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, has requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s handling of the Rayshard Brooks case.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney William Barr sent Wednesday, July 8, Collins said Howard had allowed political pressure to influence him.
“Not only should our justice system pursue actual, tangible justice, it should also pursue the appearance of justice,” Collins wrote. “Georgians must have confidence that both the process and the outcome of this case is devoid of any and all political influence. Unfortunately, Georgians have rightfully lost that confidence in DA Howard.”
On Friday, June 12, two Atlanta police officers responded to a Wendy’s restaurant after complaints that Brooks, 27, had fallen asleep in the drive-thru lane. Police body cameras have shown the officers, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, speaking with Brooks for more than 40 minutes.
When the officers told Brooks he had drank too much to drive and tried to handcuff him, a struggle began and was captured on dash camera video. Brooks took one of the officers’ Tasers and fled. Brooks fired the Taser at Rolfe while running away.
Rolfe fatally shot Brooks. An autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.
Howard announced charges against the officers five days after Brooks was killed. Rolfe is facing several charges including felony murder, while Brosnan has been charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath.
Brooks was killed as demonstrators protested police brutality and racism nationwide following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
In his letter, Collins said Howard had been too quick to announce charges against the Atlanta officers.
“DA Howard – who is in the middle of a contentious primary runoff for his re-election – made his decision to prosecute the officers involved prior to completion of the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s) investigation and without presenting the evidence to a grand jury, a process specifically created to act as a shield for the innocent and to protect against prosecutorial abuse,” Collins wrote.
GBI investigations of officer-involved shootings are standard practice.
“We’ve concluded at the time that Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death,” Howard said at the press conference announcing charges against the officers.
But Collins challenged that description of the incident, pointing to the footage of Brooks wrestling with officers and firing the Taser.
Last month, Collins also asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to appoint an independent district attorney in the case.
The Associated Press contributed.