The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has reportedly expanded its criminal investigation into Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard as new questions emerge about the grand jury subpoenas Howard’s office issued in the case involving the death of Rayshard Brooks.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has asked the GBI to expand the scope of its current investigation regarding Howard after Carr learned about subpoenas Howard’s office issued regarding Officer Garrett Rolfe and the use of force against Brooks, whom Rolfe shot after he resisted arrest and fired a taser at him during a DUI arrest.
Howard issued grand jury subpoenas directing the Atlanta Police Department to turn over its “open investigation regarding Garrett Rolfe and the use of force incident.” Fox 5 Atlanta reports:
The subpoena required that the documents be turned over for the “Grand Jury, June/July term on the of 14th day of July.” Other grand jury subpoenas were issued for phone and surveillance camera videos.
Fox 5 notes, however, that these grand jury subpoenas were issued while the grand jury was suspended. The grand jury “had been suspended on March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The issuing of grand jury subpoenas while there is no grand jury could be “an ethical or possibly criminal issue,” according to legal experts who spoke with the Fox 5.
Gable Cino, who is a law professor that specializes in prosecutorial misconduct, told the outlet, “It would be a violation of criminal law to make a knowingly false statement or misrepresentation in the subpoena which is a document that has been issued.”
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said that the department was aware of the matter and apparently is looking into it.
GBI was already investigating Howard earlier this year over a “mysterious salary supplement negotiated between Howard and then Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed” that directed $250,000 over a a 3-year period into a non-profit that was run by the DA’s office, Fox 5 reports. Howard allegedly took $140,000 from those funds to supplement his own salary.
Howard’s name gained national attention after he charged Rolfe with felony murder in the case of Rayshard Brooks.
The Atlanta Police Department was called to a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, because Brooks, 27, had fallen asleep behind the wheel of a car while in the drive-thru, which blocked the movement of vehicles in line. The interaction between the police and Brooks was mostly calm until the attempted arrest following his breathalyzer, which showed that he was driving while drunk.
When the officers began to arrest Brooks, he resisted arrest, assaulted the officers, and took one of their tasers. Rolfe pursued Brooks, who then fired the taser he had taken in Rolfe’s direction, who responded by shooting and killing Brooks.
In explaining the charges against Rolfe, Howard said, “We’ve concluded at the time Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or officers.”
A couple of weeks earlier, however, Howard stated at a press conference that a taser was considered to be a “deadly weapon” under Georgia law.