Burke County, GA Sheriff on Atlanta Police Shooting: ‘Nothing Malicious or Sadistic in the Way These Officers Behaved’

Earlier this week on CNN, Burke County, GA Sheriff Alfonzo Williams defended the actions taken by Atlanta Police in the Rayshard Brooks shooting, which has resulted in one of the officers, former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe, the suspect in Brooks’ death, facing 11 charges.

Williams told CNN’s Brianna Keilar he saw the actions, including the chase and the shooting itself, as “justified.”

“Having 30 years in the business, police and law enforcement, and 27 of those years having taught use of force and taught hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state of Georgia and other states, I just think that he’s a lawyer, he’s not a law enforcement officer. I think that is — it’s just a ridiculous statement,” he said. “Obviously, we saw in the video that the — Brooks was engaged in a fight with the officers, they were on the ground. We know that when we’re on the ground, we have a very high likelihood of being hurt or killed. It’s not the place we want to be. This is not a wrestling match. Brooks is able to take a nonlethal weapon, a taser, away from one of the officers, and he flees, they give chase. He’s committed two felony obstruction of an officer counts, and he needs to be held accountable. So they were perfectly justified in running behind Brooks to capture him.”

“He — Brooks turned back to the officers, and fired the taser,” Sheriff Williams continued. “And we all know — this is the third law enforcement agency I’ve been head of, and every agency I’ve gone to, I’ve required every officer who carries a taser, to be tased with it so that you understand the incapacitation. Five seconds: one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three, one thousand-four, one thousand-five. That’s five whole seconds that, if an officer is hit with that taser, that he — all of his muscles will be locked up and he’ll have the inability to move and to respond. And yet he is still responsible for every weapon on his belt. He — so if that officer had been hit, he still has a firearm on his side. And the likelihood of him being stomped in the head or having his firearm taken and used against him was a probability. And so he did what he needed to do, and this was a completely justified shooting.”

Keilar asked if Williams saw the force as necessary.

“It’s very necessary,” the sheriff replied. “The Fourth Amendment allows it. This is the objective reasonableness standard, and there’s nothing malicious or sadistic in the way these officers behaved. And it’s very unfortunate that the law enforcement leaders in the state of Georgia have not come out and stood together on this case. I think it’s political and it’s senseless. We’re sending the wrong message to our black youth, we’re telling them that it’s OK, that they can run from the police, they can take a weapon from the police, they can fight with the police. And point a weapon at the police, and expect nothing to happen. That is the wrong message to send to black youth.”

The Burke County Sheriff said the circumstances were much different from the Ahmaud Arbery case.

“Now, we cannot — we cannot, Brianna, put this case with the Ahmaud Arbery case, nor the George Floyd case,” he added. “When I saw the George Floyd case, I was outraged,” he added. “Two weeks ago, I was so outraged that I wrote a letter to the governor, the head of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, and the head of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, and I provided them with seven standards that I think are very necessary to prevent black men from being killed at the hands of police in the way it was done in the Floyd case and the Ahmaud Arbery case.”

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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