“The next DA or the next prosecutor who picks it up is going to have to start from scratch,” Miller said.
In a letter to Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr dated Jan. 25, Fani T. Willis blamed her former political opponent and predecessor, Paul Howard Jr., for her request to transfer the cases.
She accuses Howard of violating Georgia Bar rules for prosecutors, saying he obtained arrest warrants against Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta officer facing charges in Brooks’s fatal shooting, during his reelection campaign and used video evidence in television spots.
“In addition, as you are aware, my predecessor’s conduct also prompted a referral to the [Georgia Bureau of Investigations] for criminal investigation by you” for Howard’s issuance of grand jury subpoenas at a time when no Fulton County grand jury was empaneled, she wrote in the letter that was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Howard, who lost by nearly 44 percent, told the New York Times that the move is a ploy by Willis to shy away from being held responsible.
“You’ll see all kinds of invented reasons that prosecutors come up with,” he told the news outlet. “If the DA cannot prosecute the police, how can the DA prosecute fairly the other people in the community?”
The Post reached out to a number registered to Howard but didn’t hear back.
Miller said it’s fairly common for a prosecutor to request that someone else handle a case, especially if they don’t want any hint of impropriety surrounding the case.
“We get that, but the effect of that is harsh for the family,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Howard’s actions in the case have been questioned.
Attorneys for one of the two officers involved in Brooks’s shooting request Howard’s removal from the case in July.
“Paul Howard has systematically sought to deprive Garrett Rolfe of a fair trial and impartial jury since the day he announced his decision to arrest Garrett Rolfe,” Rolfe’s attorneys said, according to court records.
Rolfe faces multiple charges, including felony murder, and his former partner, Devin Brosnan, faces charges of aggravated assault and violation of his oath.
Brooks was shot and killed by officers after they responded to calls about a man asleep in his car at a Wendy’s drive-through. The young father of four had initially cooperated, but when they attempted to arrest him, a scuffle occurred.
Widely circulated video of Brooks’s shooting showed him pointing a Taser at officers as he ran away before the sounds of gunshots being fired. Brooks was struck in the back.
His killing last summer followed the slayings of other Black Americans in fatal encounters with law enforcement, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The other case that Willis says she should not handle is that of six officers facing charges that range from aggravated assault to pointing a gun during a May 30 incident involving Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, and his girlfriend and Spelman College student, 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim.
The couple were stuck in traffic amid George Floyd protests when live TV and body-camera footage captured six officers smashing Young’s car windows after the city’s 9 p.m. curfew. The officers used their stun guns, and Young suffered a fractured arm and a gash requiring 24 stitches.
A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office told The Post that the office is awaiting “additional information necessary to initiate the process for appointing a substitute prosecutor.”
That leaves the family in limbo, since other prosecutors can also choose to punt the case, Miller said.
“They don’t know what’s going to happen next, and it opens up old wounds,” he said.
Meryl Kornfield contributed to this report.