Atlanta City Council Settles Rayshard Brooks Wrongful Death Suit for $1 Million

Protesters Demand Justice On Anniversary Of Rayshard Brooks' Death - Credit: Megan Varner/Getty Images
Protesters Demand Justice On Anniversary Of Rayshard Brooks' Death - Credit: Megan Varner/Getty Images

The Atlanta City Council has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of Rayshard Brooks — a Black man shot and killed by a white police officer in 2020 — for $1 million, The New York Times reports.

The settlement comes three months after a special prosecutor cleared Garret Rolfe, as well as his partner that day, Devin Brosnan, of any wrongdoing. The Atlanta City Council, despite settling with Brooks’ widow and estate, also found the officers’ use of deadly force to be reasonable.

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Lawyers for Brooks’ family, L. Chris Stewart, Justin Miller, Dianna Lee, Brian Spears, Jeff Filipotis, and Wingo Smith, said they were “pleased to have reached a settlement” with the city of Atlanta, though bemoaned the dissolution of the criminal case against the new former officers. “[W]e continue to hold out hope that the Dept. of Justice will intervene in this matter,” the statement said.

Still, the family’s lawyers noted, “This grieving family has been through so much during this process. Although the children of Mr. Brooks have lost their father, settling the case will undoubtedly assist them with future plans as they come of age.”

Brooks was shot and killed on June 12, 2020, amid nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd, as well as the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Rolfe shot Brooks, who was unarmed, during an altercation in a Wendy’s parking lot, where Brooks had fallen asleep in his car.

During the incident, the cops questioned Brooks about whether or not he had been drinking and administered a sobriety test. When they asked Brooks to take a breath test, he offered to walk home, but the cops wouldn’t let him. After the test, the officers deemed him too drunk to drive and tried to handcuff him. Brooks struggled and grabbed a Taser from Brosnan, at which point Rolfe tased Brooks. Brooks then ran away, and after a faulty attempt to tase the cops, Rolfe shot him. Brooks died at the hospital, with his cause of death listed as homicide.

Both Rolfe and Brosnan were initially set to face criminal charges, with former Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard charging Rolfe with felony murder and Brosnan with aggravated assault. Howard, however, was voted out of office last year amid an investigation into whether he used money given to a nonprofit he ran, by the city of Atlanta, to pad his own salary.

In Howard’s place, Georgia’s attorney general appointed Pete Skandalakis to serve as a special prosecutor for the case. In August, Skandalakis determined that Rolfe and Brosnan “committed no crime,” adding, “Both acted as reasonable officers would under the facts and circumstances of the events of that night. Both acted in accordance with well-established law and were justified in the use of force regarding the situation.”

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