The police officer who was fired after fatally shooting a man in Atlanta last year was reinstated on Wednesday by a city board.
Garrett Rolfe did not receive the mandatory 10 days notice, the Atlanta Civil Service Board said in its decision.
“Due to the City’s failure to comply with several provisions of the Code and the information received during witnesses’ testimony, the Board concludes the Appellant was not afforded his right to due process. Therefore, the Board GRANTS the Appeal of Garrett Rolfe and revokes his dismissal as an employee of the APD,” or Atlanta Police Department, the board wrote.
Rolfe, a seven-year veteran of the force, was fired on June 13, 2020, one day after he shot Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s. Rolfe told the board during a hearing last month that he got a call alerting him to the termination, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the firing at a press conference.
During the hearing, Sgt. William Dean, an APD veteran of 25 years who is currently assigned to the Internal Affairs Advocacy Unit of Internal Affairs, told members that the termination seemed rushed and that sufficient time was not provided to Rolfe to submit a response.
“Sergeant Dean testified that during his tenure in Internal Affairs, he was unaware of any employment termination of an APD officer for alleged firearms infractions without APD having first conducted the requisite investigations,” the board said in a hearing summary.
A lawyer for Rolfe did not respond to a request for comment.
L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Brooks’s family, told reporters that the city was at fault for not following proper procedure.
“We find it mind-boggling they weren’t aware of the proper procedure,” Stewart said. “Was that done to temporarily pacify the protesters and people around the world who were upset?”
Bottoms’s office said in an emailed statement that Rolfe will remain on administrative leave until his criminal charges are resolved.
“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,” the mayor, a Democrat, said.
Rolfe shot Brooks after the man resisted arrest and grabbed an officer’s Taser.
Footage from body cameras and the Wendy’s showed Brooks moving away from Rolfe but reaching back to fire the stun gun. Rolfe fired several shots from his gun, striking Brooks twice in the back.
The manner of death was determined to be homicide and Rolfe was charged with murder by then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, a Democrat. The charges against him and the other officer involved were questioned because of how quickly they were brought and the trial has not yet been scheduled as state officials attempt to figure out who will prosecute Brooks and Devin Brosnan.
Rolfe remains free on bail.
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