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Ex-officer charged over fatal shooting of African American as Washington pushes for legislation on policing

(Xinhua)    15:03, June 18, 2020

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Georgia State's Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard on Wednesday announced 11 charges, including felony murder, against Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks last week.

Rolfe, if found guilty of felony murder, could face life in prison without parole or the death penalty, Howard said at a press conference.

Rolfe was fired after footage showed him shooting at Brooks multiple times from the back as the 27-year-old African American man fled during an encounter outside a fast-food restaurant in Atlanta Friday night.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, the other officer on the scene.

Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty and charged with three criminal counts, including aggravated assault.

Howard also said that Rolfe kicked Brooks "while he laid on ground, while he was there fighting for his life" after he was shot.

Brosnan stood on Brooks' shoulders "while he struggled for his life," the district attorney revealed.

"Once Mr. Brooks was shot, there is an Atlanta policy that requires that the officers have to provide timely medical attention to Mr. Brooks or to anyone who is injured," he added. "But after Mr. Brooks was shot, for some period of two minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied to Mr. Brooks."

That night, the pair of officers were dispatched to respond to complaints that Brooks was asleep in the drive-thru of the restaurant.

Police said they tried to take Brooks into custody after he failed a sobriety test, which led to a struggle between Brooks and the officers. Police claimed that Brooks, while allegedly resisting, grabbed an officer's taser and ran off with it.

Footage capturing the scene from the restaurant's parking lot showed that Brooks turned around and appeared to point the stun gun at Rolfe before being shot.

An ambulance transferred Brooks to a local hospital, where he died after undergoing surgery.

Brooks was shot twice in the back and died from organ damage and blood loss from the wounds, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office ruled earlier this week.

"The city of Atlanta SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), in fact, prohibit officers from firing tasers at someone who is running away. So the city of Atlanta says you could not even fire a taser at someone who is running away. So you certainly can't fire a gun, a handgun at someone who is running away," Howard said on Wednesday.

L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for the family of Rayshard Brooks, said that the incident is "heartbreaking."

"It's not a day of joy watching the charges and what's gonna happened to this officer because it shouldn't happen," Stewart said.

U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on the case Wednesday night.

"I thought it was a terrible situation but you can't resist a police officer," he said in an interview with Fox News. "They ended up in a very terrible disagreement and look at the way it ended. Very bad."

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Republicans unveiled a bill on police reform amid calls for action against police brutality and racism after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The proposal, spearheaded by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, seeks to ban the use of chokeholds and includes new accountability and reporting requirements.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said on Wednesday that the Republican proposal "is missing meaningful accountability for individual officers' misconduct."

"Without accountability measures, we're merely exhorting police departments to be better, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best," the New York Democrat added.

House Democrats introduced their bill last week that aims to ensure officers can be held accountable for misconduct and increase transparency. The House Judiciary Committee sent the package to the full House for consideration next week after a partisan 24-14 vote following a marathon 11-hour markup on Wednesday.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, late last month after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests in response to Floyd's death, and more broadly to police violence, spread across the United States and took place in some other countries.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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