ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Claiming that charges brought against two Atlanta police officers in connection with Brooks’ death are politically motivated, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins called on the Georgia attorney general to appoint an independent prosecutor in the Rayshard Brooks case
“It is time for the district attorney of Fulton County to step aside and to allow the attorney general to appoint an independent prosecutor,” Collins, a Republican, said Sunday at a rally to support police at Atlanta Police headquarters.
I’m calling on Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to appoint an independent district attorney in the case of Rayshard Brooks to ensure Georgians have complete confidence that this case is devoid of any and all political influence.
Full statement ↓https://t.co/W00R3NJ2ce
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) June 18, 2020
Collins cited the fact that Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, a Democrat, charged the officers before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had completed its own inquiry.
“You cannot prosecute cases until the investigation is over. You don’t do it for politics, your job is to find justice for everyone,” Collins said.
CNN has reached out to Howard’s office and the office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr for their response to Collins’ remarks.
Carr responded to Collins with a series of posts on his official Twitter account citing the Georgia legal code on appointing a special prosecutor.
Our office has provided additional information related to the process of appointing a substitute for an absent or disqualified district attorney -> https://t.co/37ujfjiEq5@ajc, @FOX5Atlanta, @11AliveNews, @wsbtv, @cbs46, @bluestein https://t.co/7gCV2Z4sW7
— GA AG Chris Carr (@Georgia_AG) June 21, 2020
“Our office can appoint another prosecutor if a DA disqualifies himself/herself or a court disqualifies him/her,” Carr wrote.
Last Wednesday, Howard announced the two officers would be charged in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Brooks earlier this month. Police had responded following reports that Brooks was asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive thru.
Brooks failed a sobriety test and as officers moved to handcuff him, an altercation broke out. Brooks managed to get one of the officers’ Tasers, according to the GBI. A video of the incident shows Brooks running as he appears to point the Taser in the direction of Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shoots him twice in the back.
Rolfe faces 11 charges, including felony murder. Another officer, Devin Brosnan, has been charged with aggravated assault and two counts of violations of his oath of office.
District attorney denies that charges are political
For days, Howard has faced allegations from critics, particularly members of law enforcement, that the charges were political.
Howard — the first African American district attorney elected in Georgia — faces a runoff election with a former prosecutor in his office after coming in second in this month’s primary. Howard has served as district attorney since 1997.
He has denied that his office charged Rolfe and Brosnan for political benefit. On Thursday, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that his office “charged based upon the facts.”
“This is a 27-year-old man who’s dead. He didn’t have to die. These shootings are continuing to happen all over our country,” he said. “And I think those protesters all over the country, they’re not demonstrating because they thought that Paul Howard did something political. They’re demonstrating because citizens in our country continue to die and a high number of those citizens are African Americans.”
Howard, asked about a statement by the GBI that said the agency wasn’t aware his office was set to announce charges, told CNN he was “mystified” by the statement.
“I really don’t see the purpose of it, and the district attorney is the person who makes the decision as to whether or not the case goes forward, and that’s what we did on yesterday.”
The charges appear to have had their own consequences. In recent days, some Atlanta police officers have called out sick or refused to report for work, leading to staffing shortages.
In a news conference Saturday, interim Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant acknowledged that some officers were concerned about how swiftly Rolfe and Brosnan were charged.
“The explanation for calling out sick varies and includes officers questioning their training, officers being challenged and attacked, and unease about officers seeing their colleague criminally charged so quickly,” Bryant said.
“Howard has trampled on the rights of Officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan and has further allowed this tragic incident to be more about his reelection than justice for the officers involved, the Atlanta Police Department and the citizens of our state,” said Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard, president of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.
©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to the story.