Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, the arresting officers involved in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, turned themselves in on Thursday. The men were booked separately Thursday at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed 11 counts against Rolfe, the white officer who shot the 27-year-old black man in the back during an attempted arrest last week. Among the charges he faces is felony murder, which carries the prospect of execution or life in prison without parole.
His fellow arresting officer, Brosnan, faces four counts, including aggravated assault, and if convicted, could spend up to 20 years in prison.
Rolfe was fired from the department after Brooks’ killing, and Brosnan — who stood on Brooks’ shoulder after he was shot, according to the prosecutor — was placed on administrative desk duty.
“All too often African Americans are denied justice in these situations, even though the world sees that justice should have been given,” L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks’ family, told NPR’s Morning Edition on Thursday. “Let the criminal justice system play out. And for once, a victim is getting the first steps of justice.”
At the same time, the Atlanta Police Department has been roiled by the charges against two of its own. On Wednesday night, the department acknowledged that it was dealing with a “higher than usual number” of callouts among officers.
In a statement Wednesday, the department clarified that — while “earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate” — the overnight shift had seen enough absences that officials adjusted resources to adapt.
“We do have enough officers to cover us through the night,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN on Wednesday. “Our streets won’t be any less safe because of the number of officers who called out. But it is just my hope again that our officers will remember the commitment that they made when they held up their hand and they were sworn in as police officers.”
Vince Champion, the Southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers — a national union representing many of the Atlanta officers — did not respond immediately to NPR’s request for comment.
In a conversation with CNN on Thursday, however, Champion said those who called out or simply stopped answering calls midshift did so in protest. He didn’t offer specific numbers, noting that the union was not aware of the intention to do so beforehand — but he said he understands the frustration.
“They’re just fed up,” he told the network. “I mean, their mayor has come out and said everything that they used to do with use of force is not valid — ‘Don’t do it’ — so I don’t know how we defend ourselves when people want to fight us.”