FULTON COUNTY, GA – In a move that goes well beyond pandering, District Attorney Paul Howard is so determined to win re-election (and no doubt has his eye on a more “federal” prize), that he has completely disregarded his professional obligations and the rule of law.
Howard brought 11 felony charges against police officer Garret Rolfe, one of which can carry a death penalty, before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation even had time to start, much less complete, their investigation into the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
Mr. Howard should be charged with inciting violence if this happens because this is just what his careless rhetoric will have done.
Should the GBI come back and say charges are warranted, it is highly unlikely that one of those charges will be felony murder. According to Georgia law, felony murder is only an applicable charge if death occurs during the commission of certain violent felonies such as arson, burglary, kidnapping, rape and robbery.
Officer Rolfe was certainly not committing arson or trying to rob Mr. Brooks. This statute appears entirely inapplicable and as such a huge overreach by the pandering Mr. Howard.
Maybe a more dispassionate way to look at this would be to take the race of the men and the occupations of the men out of the situation and see what the law might do.
An inebriated woman is passed out in her car at the end of another woman’s driveway. The sober woman has to go to work so she comes out of the house, carrying a legal firearm and a taser, because she works nights and wants to be safe.
She knocks on the window of the drunk woman’s car to try and get her to wake up and move. Drunk woman wakes up and gets out of the car but she won’t move her car. She seems fine until sober woman says she’s going to go get her roommate to help move the car.
Drunk woman grabs for sober woman and gets her taser and tries to figure out how to discharge it at sober woman. While drunk woman is trying to work the taser she is stumbling away from sober woman, then she reaches into her belt for something and looks back. Sober woman, having already been attacked once, thinks she sees a weapon and in a flash, draws her weapon and fires at drunk woman.
Drunk woman dies.
In the case of Officer Rolfe, though, there was no investigation, no presumption of innocence (a direct constitutional violation according to the 11th amendment).
Just an angry mob and a district attorney looking to capitalize on the dissent of the moment.
Sadly, this will not end well in either case. Right now scores of officers in Atlanta are calling in sick as they mayor actually has the nerve to say:
Mayor Bottoms should remember the contract that the city made to their police as well.
Noah H. Pines is the criminal defense attorney for former Officer Rolfe. He released a statement which said, in part:
“Under Georgia’s Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, Paul Howard is prohibited from making ‘extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.’ In fact, he is only permitted to inform the ‘pubic of the nature and extent’ of his actions ‘that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose.’ He has violated that rule today and also made blatant false statements.
“He has also acted rashly, before the official investigation has been completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Had Paul Howard waited for the GBI to complete its investigation he would have learned that while Rayshard Brooks’ death was tragic, Officer Garrett Rolfe’s actions were justified under Georgia law and that there is no legal basis to charge him with 11 felonies.”
“When Mr. Brooks chose to attack two officers, to disarm one of them, and to point and fire a deadly weapon at Officer Rolfe, he took their lives, and his own, into his hands. He took the risk that their justified response might be a deadly one.
“Time and again in this country, we have used tragic deaths to push for new and harsher prosecutions and for less empathy for the accused. But following every sad event with yet another prosecution isn’t an end to this cycle— it is simply another aspect of its continuation.