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Murder Charges in Rayshard Brooks Case?

In this case, CNN contacted Attorney Page Pate to discuss the possible charges against an Atlanta Police Department Officer in the June 2020 shooting of Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of a Wendy’s on University Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. Page is recognized as a legal analyst and criminal defense attorney and is often asked by the media to provide opinions and analysis of high-profile cases appearing in the news.

Page is asked for his opinion on the situation, and he explains that he thinks the charge will be murder because the shooting wasn’t “an attempt to shoot him in the leg, shoot him in the arm, fire off a warning shot,” and therefore, the officer intended to kill Mr. Brooks. Page further comments that “Now, the only question’s going to be, “Was that justified? Was he in reasonable fear that he was about to be killed himself?” and at that point, a risk of death or serious violent injury to the officer or someone else close by? If he is not, then you have no right to take his life.”

When asked how the officer’s exclamation that he “got him” after shooting Mr. Brooks might assist the prosecution’s case, Page responds that it clearly “shows that the intent was there. I intended to shoot him. I intended to kill him. Now, again, the officer, I’m sure, is gonna say, “My actions were justified.” And I will promise you this, but for those videos that were made on the scene, we wouldn’t be talking about this. There wouldn’t be any considered prosecution of this officer because there was at least some attempt by the individual to pull some sort of weapon and aim it towards an officer. Last year, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, that would have been the end of the story. But now, we’ve been able to see it play out in real time and to see that that officer did have other options. There was no reason to shoot to kill when the officer absolutely knew that the only weapon the man had was a TASER. And he wasn’t even firing it in any way that could have harmed the officer at that time. So I think it shows the intent. The question’s gonna be, “Is there a defense? Was the shooting justified?” Ultimately, that may be up to a jury.”

Officer Garrett Rolfe was ultimately charged with murder, aggravated assault, violation of oath and criminal damage to property in the Superior Court of Fulton County and was released on a $500,000 bond. He is awaiting trial.

TRANSCRIPT:

Fred: Page, how do you see all this?

Page: Well, Fred, I think it’s either murder or it’s nothing because there’s no question that when he fired his service weapon, he intended to kill Mr. Taylor. There’s no doubt about it. It wasn’t an attempt to shoot him in the leg, shoot him in the arm, fire off a warning shot. So he intended to kill him. Now, the only question’s going to be, “Was that justified? Was he in reasonable fear that he was about to be killed himself?” It is not just, I think this gets [inaudible 00:00:30] hurt someone else. Is Mr. Taylor, at that point, a risk of death or serious violent injury to the officer or someone else close by? If he is not, then you have no right to take his life.

Fred: So not only are the actions being evaluated, but you heard Paul Howard, if you listened to my interview with him earlier, he also said he is listening to the words and he heard in that videotape, the officer, Mr. Rolfe say, “I got him,” after the, you know, lethal fatal shot was fired. So Page, how does that assist prosecutors going after this officer?

Page: Well, clearly, Fred, it shows that the intent was there. I intended to shoot him. I intended to kill him. Now, again, the officer, I’m sure, is gonna say, “My actions were justified.” And I will promise you this, but for those videos that were made on the scene, we wouldn’t be talking about this. There wouldn’t be any considered prosecution of this officer because there was at least some attempt by the individual to pull some sort of weapon and aim it towards an officer. Last year, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, that would have been the end of the story. But now, we’ve been able to see it play out in real time and to see that that officer did have other options. There was no reason to shoot to kill when the officer absolutely knew that the only weapon the man had was a TASER. And he wasn’t even firing it in any way that could have harmed the officer at that time. So I think it shows the intent. The question’s gonna be, “Is there a defense? Was the shooting justified?” Ultimately, that may be up to a jury.