DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson on Friday stood by his assertion that an Atlanta police officer recently charged with murder was justified to use deadly force.
In a case that has drawn national attention, police officer Garrett Rolfe has been charged with felony murder and 10 other offenses following last week’s shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
On the night of June 12, Brooks was found sleeping in a Wendy’s drive through. When officers attempted to handcuff him, he fought them off and grabbed a stun gun from one of them. He was shot as he was running after appearing to turn and fire the stolen weapon.
Asked his opinion of the Atlanta shooting Thursday during a live question and answer session with constituents, Adkinson said of Rolfe "I would not have fired him. I would not have charged him.
"Based on what I have seen it was a justifiable use of force," Adkinson said.
The sheriff on Friday stood by his comments, though he added that he had not followed the case too closely and admitted there might be extenuating circumstances surrounding the shooting of which he might not be aware.
"You’re trying to make an arrest and the suspect fights you and takes a weapon, then turns to fire that weapon, that’s deadly force," Adkinson said.
He said whatever unknown circumstances may yet surround the Atlanta case, there is no justification for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to have brought charges against Rolfe and fellow officer Devin Brosnan without having first conducted a thorough investigation.
"Charging someone before an investigation is done, especially when there is prima facia evidence that the victim has taken a weapon from you and is pointing a weapon at you, that’s not done," Adkinson said. "I think the rush to judgment on that is absolutely incorrect."
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has also spoken critically of Howard’s decision to file charges so quickly in the Brooks’ case.
Following the press conference at which Brooks announced the charges his office was bringing, the GBI released a statement saying it had not been notified ahead of time regarding Howard’s plans.
The statement said the Atlanta Police Department had contacted the GBI on Friday, June 12 to investigate the officer involved shooting.
"We are in the process of conducting this investigation," the statement said. "Our goal in every officer-involved shooting case we are requested to review, is to complete a thorough, impartial investigation before we submit the file to the respective District Attorney’s Office.
The release said that the GBI would "complete its mission of completing an impartial, thorough investigation" despite Howard’s decision to file charges.
Once completed a report would be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review, the news release said.
The First Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office declined to offer an opinion on the Atlanta shooting case.
"We’re not in a position to give an opinion on that," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille.