The DA who rushed to charge Officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks apparently hasn’t thought through some of his arguments, nor taken note of his own past statements.
DA Paul Howard gave a presser yesterday in which he announced the charges. Georgia state officials, including the GBI (who had not finished their investigation), were not informed. This was an obvious desperation attempt by Howard, who is under investigation for corruption and is facing a strong re-election battle. He falsely described what the video showed, claiming Brooks was polite and compliant throughout the incident. Nothing could be further from the truth, as he assaulted the officers, stole their taser, and fired it at them multiple times, including right before he was shot.
The use of the taser by Brooks has become the pressure point, with some claiming it’s not a “deadly weapon” and that he posed no threat by attempting to use it on the officers. That’s factually untrue, as you can die from a taser, especially if it’s haphazardly misused. It’s also legally untrue, as Georgia law specifically classifies tasers and stun guns as deadly weapons.
How do I know that? Because Howard publicly said the same thing just two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, the DA in Atlanta who's currently charging Officer Garrett Rolfe in the Rayshard Brooks case charged police officers with aggravated assault for using a taser on protesters.
"A taser is considered a deadly weapon under Georgia law" pic.twitter.com/ZQfsjllEQS
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 17, 2020
In that case, he charged another group of officers with assault and directly proclaimed their use of a taser on a suspect constituted use of a deadly weapon. He cited the Georgia law that denotes that. Yet, when it’s Brooks stealing a taser in this latest case and trying to use it on the officers he himself assaulted, Howard has suddenly flipped. He’s claiming the taser was not a threat. How convenient, right?
That will be an opening used again and again by the defense counsel of the officers involved in the Brooks case. How can a DA have differing standards for different cases, all of which just so happen to target police officers? That’ll be for a judge and jury to decide, if it gets that far.
But the real danger here isn’t in regards to the Brooks case. It’s the repercussions of this DA’s partisan actions. By ridiculously charging Rolfe with felony murder for defending himself, he’s opened the floodgates for violence when the charges are inevitably dropped or he’s found not guilty. There will be no reasoning with the mob at that point. He’s also created an environment within the majority-minority APD in which enforcement will inevitably wane, causing a crime surge.
The other thing Howard is attempting to do is inoculate himself from his election challenger by using this case as a shield. He’ll proclaim that what he’s doing is too important for him to be voted out in the middle of it.
Every bit of this is political.