Thousands of people have contributed to a fundraiser for fired Atlanta police Officer Garrett Rolfe, who was charged with felony murder Wednesday for his role in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
The nonprofit conducting the fundraiser, the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization, told WSB-TV that as of Thursday over $200,000 had been raised in an effort to help Rolfe's family pay for "legal services and general necessities."
The nonprofit, which argues that Rolfe is being used a "political pawn" by the district attorney, added that the money has come in from more than 2,000 contributors.
"Officer Rolfe was involved in the justified shooting of Rayshard Brooks on June 12th, 2020," the nonprofit says on its website. "The videos clearly show that the shooting was justified; however, the District Attorney Paul Howard, who is losing his election, has chosen to charge Officer Rolfe with 11 charges including Felony Murder, and it is 100% for political gain. The DA is losing his election, and he is also under investigation himself for stealing $185,000 in tax money, and transferring it directly into his personal account."
What's the background?
Rolfe and his former partner Devin Brosnan responded to the scene last Friday after Brooks had been reported sleeping in his car in a Wendy's drive-thru. The two officers talked to Brooks for about 40 minutes, administered a breathalyzer test on Brooks, and then attempted to handcuff him, at which point he resisted and tried to flee.
Bodycam and surveillance footage show Brooks struggling with the officers on the ground before grabbing one of their Tasers and running off. Brooks turned back and pointed the stun gun at the officers, and then Rolfe shot at Brooks three times. Brooks later died from his wounds.
District Attorney Paul Howard suggested in announcing the charges against Rolfe that Brooks "never presented himself as a threat" and "never displayed any aggressive behavior."
Just two weeks earlier, Howard had acknowledged that "a Taser is considered as a deadly weapon under Georgia law" while announcing charges against Atlanta police officers who employed Tasers while making an arrest during the George Floyd protests.
Critics of Rolfe say that he and officer Brosnan had other options available to them to de-escalate the situation besides detainment and the eventual use of deadly force.