ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10/CNN) — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has refused the Fulton County District Attorney’s request to appoint an alternative prosecutor in two high-profile cases involving the use of force by police in Atlanta.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis had cited issues with her predecessor’s handling of the two cases.READ MORE: Charged Felony Murder: Ex-Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe Who Killed Rayshard Brooks
The first case involves Rayshard Brooks, a Black man killed by a police officer outside a fast-food restaurant in June. The other involves two Black college students pulled from their cars by officers during a George Floyd protest.
In a letter to state Attorney General Christopher Carr, Willis said former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard used video evidence as part of his television ad campaign for re-election. The campaign used footage from the Brooks case during the race that was won by Willis.
VOTE to re-elect DA Paul Howard TODAY. Early voting ends on August 7th, and Election Day is on August 11th. For early voting locations and more information visit https://t.co/Z6wkqEPLNq #ProvenPaul #Paul4thePeople #ReElectPaulHowardFCDA#StickWithPaul #fultoncountyDA pic.twitter.com/tS3bV1WN08
— Paul Howard (@PaulHowardDA) July 24, 2020
She also pointed to Howard’s issuance of grand jury subpoenas, while no such panel was sitting due to the ongoing pandemic, as a reason why the case should be transferred out of her office. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations is looking into the grand jury issue.
One of the cases is against six Atlanta Police Department officers, who broke a car window and pulled Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young from their vehicle during the Floyd protest last year.
“I thought I might be killed,” says Taniyah Pilgrim, a college student involved in the tasing incident in Atlanta. “Nothing really warranted it. After I realized none of this really had a reason, I was just thinking, OK, this is the end.” https://t.co/jzpsRwEkiU pic.twitter.com/Nf7tnQde2h
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 3, 2020
The students were on their way home on May 30 from picking up food when they got caught in downtown Atlanta traffic near a large group of demonstrators who had taken to the city’s streets in protest over Floyd’s death during his arrest in Minneapolis.
The other involves Brooks’ death. He was killed by an Atlanta officer outside a Wendy’s restaurant after police responded to a report of a man sleeping in his car in the fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru lane.READ MORE: Some Law Enforcement Officials Say Rayshard Brooks' Shooting Was Justified
After chatting calmly with the officers and failing a Breathalyzer test, Brooks resisted when officers moved to handcuff him.
Video footage shows the three fighting on the ground before Brooks grabs an officer’s Taser and begins to run away. As an officer chases him, Brooks points the Taser over his shoulder at former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who then shoots him multiple times, the surveillance video shows. Brooks died at a hospital.
In a letter rejecting the request for a change of prosecutor Tuesday, Carr said that, based on the concerns raised in Willis’ letter, “it appears abundantly clear that your office is not disqualified from these cases by interest or relationship.”
The attorney general’s office would “not be proceeding to appoint a prosecutor for these cases,” the responsibility for which “remains with your office,” the letter said.
Chris Stewart and Justin Miller, the attorneys representing Brooks family and college students, Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, said in a statement:
We recently learned of Attorney General Chris Carr’s decision to deny Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ request to transfer criminal cases against the Atlanta police officers charged in the Brooks, Pilgrim and Young cases.
Our clients each had violent interactions with these APD officers. Rayshard Brooks lost his life. Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young suffered serious physical and psychological injuries. We believe that these officers should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, but it became abundantly clear through her recusal letter that the Fulton DA was not interested in prosecuting these cases.
While we were disappointed that the Fulton DA made the decision to request a transfer of these cases, we were hopeful that Attorney General Carr would give them to a prosecutor who would pursue these cases vigorously.
Now we are left in a state of limbo. Our clients deserve better.
We intend to meet with Fulton DA Willis next week to see where we go from here and will address media in a more substantive way after that discussion.
A third unrelated case will be reassigned to a special prosecutor, the letter from the attorney general’s office said.MORE NEWS: Atlanta Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks Received Several Citizen Complaints Against Him
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