Atlanta officer says not ‘state’s witness’ in Rayshard Brooks case, contradicting prosecutor

Devin Brosnan, one of two Atlanta police officers charged in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, has not agreed to be a witness for the prosecution, his lawyer told Reuters on Thursday, contradicting an assertion made by the lead prosecutor on the case.

FILE PHOTO: Protesters rally against racial inequality and the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 13, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard had told a news conference on Wednesday that Brosnan had turned “state witness”, agreeing to help prosecute Garrett Rolfe, the other officer charged in the killing of Brooks on June 12.

Rolfe, who shot Brooks in the back with his gun, was charged with felony murder and 10 other charges. Brosnan, who did not discharge his weapon, faces a handful of lesser charges, including aggravated assault and violation of his oath.

The death of Brooks – the latest in a long line of unarmed African Americans whose fatal encounters with law enforcement have been documented on video – further heightened U.S. social tensions at a time of national soul searching over police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system.

Don Samuel, Brosnan’s lawyer, said that while his client had told Howard’s office “everything that happened” during a lengthy interview and would cooperate with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s probe he had not agreed to be “state’s witness”.

“Officer Brosnan has not agreed to testify.  He has not agreed to plead guilty,” Samuel said in an emailed statement. “He will continue to tell the DA or the GBI, or any other investigator what happened.”

Samuel described the decision to charge his client “irrational” and politically-motivated. He said Brosnan’s conduct on the night of the shooting was “exemplary” and a “textbook example” of how an officer should approach a situation involving someone inebriated, as Brooks was that night.

While Brosnan did not fire his gun, Howard charged him with aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks’ body after he was shot and for violating his oath of office by not rendering medical aid immediately after he went down.

Samuel said Brosnan, despite suffering a concussion during a tussle with Brooks, rushed to provide medical aid.

“He removed Mr. Brooks’ shirt and along with the other officer applied first aid, including CPR,” Samuel said. “Despite a crowd that was yelling, Devin did what he could to save Mr. Brooks.”

reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Alistair Bell