ATLANTA — One of the police officers charged in the death of Rayshard Brooks would not have done anything differently that night, he said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Atlanta police officer Devin Brosnan also called Brooks’ death a “tragedy,” according to his interview published by the newspaper Tuesday, just hours before the 27-year-old father was to be laid to rest.
“At the end of the day, someone lost their life. To me, it’s heartbreaking no matter the circumstances, no matter what,” Brosnan, 26, said. “When anybody dies truly is something you never want to see happen, to have happen. I can’t imagine what a family would go through.”
Brooks’ death, coming two weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, sparked more protests and demonstrations across Atlanta, and the city’s police chief stepped down less than a day later.
Brosnan said he was surprised and disappointed by Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s decision to charge him with aggravated assault — in part because he put his foot on Brooks after he was shot — and violation of oath by a public officer, he told the AJC. He has been placed on administrative duty and is free on a $50,000 signature bond.
Brosnan admitted in the AJC interview that for his own safety he put his foot on the stricken Brooks, and video footage shows his foot was on Brooks for a few seconds.
“I feel like my side wasn’t really heard and given the short timeframe it’s hard for anybody to understand all the facts and the whole circumstances around it,” the officer said in the newspaper interview. “That being said, I’m still willing to cooperate.”
Brooks’ widow has said the details of her husband’s final moments left her appalled, and she had to leave the room more than once as Howard last week laid out the allegations, her attorney has said.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I would have seen it for myself. But I felt everything he felt just by hearing what he went through. And it hurt. It hurt really bad,” Tomika Miller said.
Brosnan personally would not have done anything differently that evening and is willing to answer questions about what happened, he said.
‘I’ll tell the truth’
Brosnan also was surprised that Howard in the news conference announcing the charges said he would be a prosecution witness and testify against the other officer, who is charged with felony murder in the case, he told the AJC.
“I’m not a cooperating witness; I’m cooperating. I think that’s the takeaway,” Brosnan said. “I’ll tell the truth to anybody who needs to hear it.”
Brosnan has not made such an agreement, his lawyer, Don Samuel, who the AJC said sat in on the interview with co-counsel Amanda Clark Palmer, has said. Brosnan did sit down with Fulton County prosecutors for three hours and answered all their questions the day before he was charged, Samuel told the newspaper.
Brosnan cannot speak to why Howard said what he said, he told the AJC.
“I just looked at it like, he could have just said I’m doing the right thing — I’m talking,” Brosnan said. “But it just seemed like it was more important to make it political than it was to get to the truth of the matter and get to the real facts of it. … Some person lost their life. It’s not something to make political.”
Brosnan will be interviewed Tuesday by the GBI for its investigation of the shooting, the newspaper reported.
First officer to arrive at scene
Brosnan was the first officer to arrive June 12 after being called to the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant in south Atlanta. Police were called after Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane.
A second officer, Garrett Rolfe, arrived and conducted a field sobriety test and Breathalyzer test on Brooks. When he failed those tests, the officers tried to handcuff Brooks.
Brooks struggled with the officers and grabbed Brosnan’s Taser, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. In the scuffle, Brosnan was knocked backward and his head struck the pavement. Brosnan suffered a concussion from the blow, his attorney has said.
The concussion left Brosnan feeling disoriented and terrified, and it was at this time when Brooks got control of his Taser, he told the AJC. Brosnan did not know all that had happened because of his concussion, he said.
“I hear gunfire,” Brosnan told the AJC. “I know he still has my Taser. I know there’s a crowd. I got up to him and I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. You need to make sure you’re safe before you can help or do anything else.”
In a video of the incident, Brooks runs and appears to point the Taser in the direction of Rolfe, who shoots him. Two of the shots hit Brooks in the back and a third one hit a nearby vehicle. Brooks later died of his wounds.
After Brooks was shot, Brosnan put his foot on the man, then removed it when he determined Brooks couldn’t reach his Taser again, Brosnan told the AJC.
“It’s totally just an instinctual thing for my own safety,” he said. “When I realized I was safe that’s when I take it off. In no way shape or form was I trying to hurt this man.”