Rayshard Brooks’ wife wants officers jailed after his initially peaceful encounter with police turns fatal

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Just days after George Floyd was buried in Houston and nationwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality continued, another Black man was killed by police — this time in Atlanta.

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said. His death was ruled a homicide.

Hours after the killing, Atlanta’s police chief stepped down, the officer who shot Brooks was fired and a second officer placed on administrative duty — but Brooks’ death has rekindled large protests in the city, with more expected throughout Atlanta this week.

“Rayshard Brooks is everybody. Just like George is everybody. We are all the people, we are all God’s children,” Brooks’ wife, Tomika Miller, told CBS This Morning. “We should feel the pain of those who lost their life to senselessness over authority being taken way overboard.”

She says she wants the officers involved in Brook’s death to go to jail.

Police responded to a call Friday night about a man sleeping in a vehicle at a Wendy’s drive-thru and began talking with Brooks. Authorities say he failed a sobriety test and one of the officers attempted to arrest him, which led to a struggle between Brooks and two police officers, according to footage of the incident. A video shows Brooks took an officer’s Taser during the struggle and then pointed it at one of the officers as he ran away. That officer then shot Brooks three times, authorities said.

He was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after, authorities said.

Family attorneys and the district attorney say the encounter between the man and the officers should not have turned deadly. For more than 20 minutes, Brooks responded to questions calmly and complied with officers’ requests before they tried to arrest him.

“It’s very difficult when you see (the video), when you see the demeanor of Mr. Brooks, to imagine that some short time later, it ends up with him being dead,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Sunday.

Brooks leaves behind three young daughters and a teenage stepson.

Use of force unjustified, mayor says

Brooks died from organ damage and blood loss from the two gunshot wounds, according to the medical examiner’s office.

The day after his death, Atlanta police chief Erika Shields stepped down. Garrett Rolfe, the officer who killed Brooks, was terminated and a second officer involved in the killing, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty.

Howard said possible charges against Rolfe could include murder, felony murder or voluntary manslaughter.

“What we’re trying to determine is, at that time, whether or not the officers felt their lives were in danger,” Howard said.

“Specifically, officer Rolfe, whether or not he felt that Mr. Brooks, at that time presented imminent harm of death or some serious physical injury. Or the alternative is whether or not he fired the shot simply to capture him or some other reason,” Howard said. “If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save that officer’s life or to prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law.”

The city’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said she didn’t believe the killing was a justified use of force. She said watching the body camera footage of the shooting, she didn’t find the initial interaction confrontational.

“Even knowing the end, watching the video you are just going, just let him go, just let him go, let him call somebody to pick him up,” she said during a CNN town hall Sunday.

She called Brooks “a guy you were rooting for.”

‘The straw that broke the camel’s back’

Over the weekend, protesters in Atlanta grieved for the latest victim who died at the hands of police. Newly painted signs that demanded justice for Brooks were added on to signs that have been demanding justice for Floyd — as well as other black victims of police brutality.

“I’m angry because I’m an African American female, I’ve lived this experience, my family’s lived this experience, I’m just sort of more happy that people are now understanding and seeing what people have been saying for a long time,” one protester told CNN affiliate WSB.

“I believe that this incident and all the ones that led up to it, sort of piled on each other, and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said.

Late Saturday night, the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot and killed was quickly engulfed by flames after it was lit on fire during protests. Firefighters took more than an hour to reach the building as it was surrounded by crowds.

Police now say they’re on the hunt for the people responsible for the blaze and are offering $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

What newly released footage shows

Videos from police, the store and witnesses help piece together Brooks’ last moments alive.

Brosnan was wearing a body cam when he arrived first at the scene as Brooks was apparently asleep in his vehicle in the Wendy’s drive-thru lane. Brooks appeared disoriented but after a brief conversation moved the vehicle to a parking spot.

Rolfe arrived shortly after, questioned Brooks and began a field sobriety test. Brooks asks, “What should I do, sir?” Shortly after, the officer uses a breathalyzer test and Brooks goes on to explain he had been drinking and that it was his daughter’s birthday.

Family attorneys said Brooks spent much of Friday with his 8-year-old daughter to celebrate her birthday. He took her to get her nails done and the two shared a meal together. They had planned to go skating Saturday.

Rolfe tells Brooks, “I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving,” and attempts to arrest him but Brooks resists.

Three separate videos captured different parts of the next moments: a struggle between the three men and Brooks running away with a Taser.

As Brooks was running, he turned around and appeared to point the Taser at Rolfe, who unholsters and fires his handgun.

“What happened in that moment when (Brooks) resisted doesn’t allow a police officer to become judge, jury and executioner,” L. Chris Stewart, the attorney representing Brooks’ family, said Sunday. “We watch videos all the time where it’s a Caucasian individual or a person of a different race that resists and lives. We’ve watched videos of a person go do a mass shooting and live.”

“There was absolutely no reason for him to die because he resisted and ran away,” Stewart said.

WARNING: Video contains disturbing images and sound. Viewer discretion is advised.

CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Alta Spells, Mel Alonso, Chuck Johnston, Dave Alsup and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on CNN.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The po po should have allowed the community to settle it. Let and Rayshard battle it out instead. Whoever wins, wins. :-\

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