A former Atlanta police officer’s attorney said Thursday that his client didn’t get a chance to defend himself before he was fired for fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who had been running away from two white officers after he resisted arrest and fired a stun gun at one of them.
Officer Garrett Rolfe was dismissed “without a proper investigation” by the city on June 13, one day after Brooks’ death, Rolfe’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, told the city’s civil service board as he argued for his client’s reinstatement to the force, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The encounter outside a Wendy’s restaurant last year started calmly but rapidly spun out of control when Atlanta police tried to handcuff and arrest Brooks, 27, for suspected DUI.
Assistant Police Chief Todd Coyt told the board that he believed Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan “were trying to show compassion and did everything they could to calm the situation down.”
But Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she believed Rolfe should be fired immediately. And LoRusso argued that the mayor’s needs prevented his client from receiving enough time to defend himself, causing Rolfe’s due process rights to be “grossly violated.”
Sgt. William Dean, an internal affairs investigator, said the June hearing about Rolfe’s employment status was moved up to accommodate a 5 p.m. news conference by the mayor announcing his termination.
Rolfe also testified he had not authorized police union official Ken Allen to represent him at the hearing.
Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, the city’s attorney, argued that firing Rolfe so quickly was a reasonable decision, noting city policy allows for it when an officer’s presence “impairs the effectiveness of others.”