The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks during a June arrest after he fell asleep in his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru is suing the mayor and interim police chief over his termination, claiming the decision violated his constitutional rights.
Garrett Rolfe, 27, currently faces 11 charges—including felony murder—for shooting Brooks on June 12 as he was running away through the crowded fast-food parking lot. After shooting him twice in the back, Rolfe then kicked the 27-year-old man “while he was lying on the ground,” prosecutors allege.
Rolfe was fired the following day after footage of the police killing spurred a national outcry, the resignation of Atlanta’s police chief, and mass protests in the Georgia capital amid nationwide unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His partner, Devin Brosnan, was also placed on administrative leave and later charged in the incident.
But according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court, Rolfe insists he was fired “without an investigation, without proper notice, without a disciplinary hearing, and in direct violation of the municipal code of the City of Atlanta.”
The lawsuit, which names Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant as defendants, requests a hearing so Rolfe may be immediately reinstated to the force with back pay.
Authorities say his confrontation with Brooks began around 10:30 p.m. on June 12, when officers Brosnan and Rolfe arrived at the Wendy’s in south Atlanta to find the 27-year-old asleep in a car blocking the drive-thru lane.
According to released body-cam footage, the officers calmly spoke with Brooks for 27 minutes, asking him if he had been drinking. But when they conducted a breathalyzer test on him, finding Brooks was above the blood-alcohol limit, he resisted arrest. A struggle ensued before Brooks grabbed Brosnan’s stun gun, according to the video footage. When Brooks got up and ran away he turned and fired the Taser towards Rolfe—who then shot Brooks twice in the back.
Six minutes after the shooting, an ambulance arrived to take Brooks to Grady Memorial Hospital. Brooks was pronounced dead shortly after surgery at the hospital.
Rolfe’s lawsuit claims the deadly force was “within the scope and court of his duties” after “Brooks’ violent, unlawful, aggressive resisting to a lawsuit arrest.”
Noting that Brosnan and “many other City of Atlanta Police officers who have been charged with crimes, including felonies, have remained employed during the investigation and pendency of their criminal charges,” the lawsuit argues that Rolfe was denied his right to due process.
Rolfe “has suffered irreparable injury to his personal and professional reputation as a result of his unlawful dismissal,” the lawsuit states, noting that he “has become a public spectacle and object of ridicule.”
The lawsuit also comes as prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Rolfe’s $500,000 bond, arguing that his Florida vacation last week violated his bond restrictions. According to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, his office received an email Monday from the former officer’s legal team notifying them Rolfe had traveled to Florida. His ankle monitor revealed he left his home on Sunday and was in Daytona Beach.
“The Bond Order ... expressly states that the Defendant is only allowed to leave home for medical, legal, or work-related obligations," the motion said, asking that Rolfe's bond be revoked. Thus, [Rolfe] has clearly shown that he will not abide by the conditions of bond imposed by the Court.”
Rolfe’s lawyers did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.