Pete Skandalakis, Executive Director of the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia, said that he believes Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot and killed Brooks, was justified in using deadly force in the encounter. Officer Devin Brosnan also had all charges dropped against him.
"Given the quickly changing circumstances, was it objectively reasonable that he used deadly force? And we conclude it was," Skandalakis said in his decision.
Last year, Skandalakis was appointed to preside over the case after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis recused herself. Her office cited “concerns about the actions of her predecessor, who announced a murder charge against Rolfe less than a week after the shooting.”
Back in June of 2020, police responded to complaints about a man sleeping in a car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy's restaurant. Police body camera footage shows the two officers speaking with Brooks for almost 40 minutes.
When the officers attempted to arrest Brooks after he failed a sobriety test, he resisted, grabbed a Taser from one of the officers, and fired it at Rolfe as he ran away. Rolfe then fired his gun, and an autopsy revealed that Brooks was shot twice in the back.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter claimed that Brooks had already “overpowered” the officers during the incident by bringing them to the ground and Rolfe acted “in accordance with Georgia law and Atlanta Police Department policy given the facts of the situation.”
Skandalakis described the incident as "a peaceful encounter that all of a sudden becomes a violent encounter." He noted that when Brooks took the Taser from Brosnan, Rolfe was forced to respond accordingly.
A day after the deadly incident, Brosnan was placed on administrative leave and Rolfe was terminated. Eventually, Rolfe's dismissal was overturned in May 2021 by the Atlanta Civil Service Board.
"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,” the Board’s statement read. “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.”
Less than a week after Brooks was killed, former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard issued warrants against Rolfe and Brosnan. Rolfe was charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, and violation of his oath. Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath. Skandalakis announced that he would file paperwork to dismiss those warrants.
Although Skandalakis acknowledged that police interactions with the African American community can be "very volatile," somehow, he doesn't believe race was a contributing factor in Brooks' case.
"This isn't one of those cases," he said. "This is a case in which the officers were willing to give Mr. Brooks every benefit of the doubt and, you know, unfortunately, by his actions, this is what happened."