Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Interim Police Chief Rodney Bryant in a county court on Tuesday. Rolfe was fired by his then-employer the day after he shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in early June.
Stylized as a petition for a writ of mandamus, Rolfe’s filing argues that he was fired by Bottoms and former police chief Erika Shields without the specific due process mandated for removing certain “non-probationary” municipal employees in Atlanta.
Rolfe claims he was “summarily dismissed” by Bottoms and Shields “without an investigation, without proper notice, without a pre-disciplinary hearing, and in direct violation of the municipal code.”
The former cop, who was charged with felony murder in Brooks’s death, argues his firing was “[c]ontrary to city policy as well as the policies, procedures, customs, and practices of the City of Atlanta Police Department.” His complaint also alleges that he “was never interviewed by the Office of Professional Standards or any individual regarding [his fatal shooting of Brooks] to provide his statement.”
On June 12, Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan responded to a call about a man sleeping in his car in a Wendy’s parking lot.
The man was Brooks and the nap in the Wendy’s drive-thru, which apparently occurred after a night of drinking, led to an encounter with law enforcement that ultimately cost Brooks his life. According to bodycam and surveillance footage, the officers’ attempt to arrest Brooks quickly went south. After a struggle, Brooks attempted to flee. During the struggle, Brooks allegedly obtained–and later allegedly fired Brosnan’s taser at Rolfe without making contact.
Rolfe then shot Brooks twice in the back from 18 feet away. A third shot missed. Brooks later died at a nearby hospital following surgery.
The since-fired officer says the shooting was above-board:
During the course of the incident, [Rolfe], along with Devin Brosnan, lawfully attempted to place Brooks under arrest. Brooks violently resisted arrest, escalating the incident to a violent, physical confrontation. In response to Brooks’ violent, unlawful, aggressive resistance to a lawful arrest, and within the scope and course of his duties, Petitioner utilized force, including deadly force, against Brooks. The incident was captured on video through various sources. [Bottoms and Bryant] allege that [Rolfe’s] use of force was improper….his use of force was proper and in compliance with Georgia law, the policies of the Atlanta Police Department, prevailing standards of law enforcement, United States Supreme Court precedent, and the training provided to him through the City of Atlanta Police Department and the State of Georgia.
Rolfe’s filing goes on to state a claim that he was denied his procedural due process rights in violation of the 14th Amendment as well as several sections of the Georgia Constitution. He also alleges that Atlanta’s municipal code creates a statutory “right of notice in regard to an adverse employment action” and “a statutory right to paid suspension” and cites various portions of the city’s governing charter to make his case.
The petition additionally notes that other Atlanta police officers have been charged with felonies and “have remained employed during the investigation and pendency of their criminal charges” and alleges that this–along with Brosnan’s continued employment–is evidence of unfair treatment.
“He is additionally entitled to receive equal treatment under the law as compared to other officers who are similarly situated,” the filing argues.
Due to the formal nature of his claim, Rolfe is necessarily suing for reinstatement on the same police force that fired him months ago. A writ of mandamus is a directive from a higher legal authority for a government agency (like a police department) or lesser legal authority (like a lower court) to take a certain action because their initial action was legally unjust.
Rolfe is also suing for attorney’s fees and expenses.
Read the full filing below:
Rolfe v. Bottoms Complaint 8-4-20 by Law&Crime on Scribd
[Image via Atlanta Police body camera footage]
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