Atlanta DA's Injustice Play Against Cops

His political calculations determined his very distorted sense of "justice."

Thomas Gallatin · Jul. 16, 2020

We recently noted the politically motivated actions of Atlanta’s District Attorney Paul Howard in his dubious decision to charge police officer Garrett Rolfe with felony murder for his role in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. Recall that Brooks, as he was being arrested on DUI charges, suddenly and violently resisted — he fought with the two officers, stole one of the officers’ tasers, and as he was fleeing turned and fired it at the officers before Rolfe shot and killed him. As we previously argued, based on the known evidence, there is nothing that justifies these charges. That assessment still holds today.

What is new is that more information has come to light that further cements our assessment that DA Howard’s actions are not only politically motivated during an election year but also corrupt. Howard sought to rig the judicial process in order to railroad Rolfe in an effort to both placate his constituents and fend off negative press associated with his being under a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe for illegally supplementing his income with grant money from a nonprofit.

It appears that Howard acquired grand jury subpoenas instructing the Atlanta PD to turn over its “open investigation regarding Garrett Rolfe and the use of force incident.” However, there’s one major problem with these subpoenas: The grand jury had been suspended due to COVID-19 since March 13, well over a month before the Brooks incident. In other words, there was no grand jury to produce said subpoenas. As Georgia State University law professor Jessica Gable Cino observes, “It would be a violation of criminal law to make a knowingly false statement or misrepresentation in the subpoena.”

Furthermore, Howard has given multiple and contradictory explanations for how the subpoenas were issued. First, he claimed they were issued for a potential “future grand jury,” a dubious and highly problematic claim. He later contradicted that by saying the subpoenas had been issued by a “past grand jury.” The problem with this explanation is that, again, the past grand jury’s legal term had already ended prior to the Brooks incident — ergo no possibility for the legal issuing of subpoenas.

“It absolutely looks like the District Attorney’s Office is attempting to sort of cover up their mistakes with band aids that aren’t really staying on very well,” Cino argues. “It looks like there’s an abuse of process which could completely derail this case, and nobody wants that outcome.” Actually, that may be exactly the outcome Howard is after. If the case is dismissed (and it should be because these officers should never have been charged in the first place), Howard can claim that his attempt to get “justice” for Brooks was prevented by a justice system rife with “systemic racism.” This is assuming that Howard doesn’t soon find himself facing the long arm of the law he so self-servingly and corruptly wielded. The GBI has expanded its investigation to include this most recent ethics violation, so stay tuned.

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