Another Black Man Killed by the Police in America Sparks New Wave of Protests
Atlanta’s top prosecutor said his office will decide this week whether to bring charges against the police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks, a black man whose killing outside a Wendy’s (international fast food restaurant chain) on Friday sparked a fresh wave of protests against police violence in the Southern city and added fuel to nationwide anger over racial injustice.
Family members on Sunday recalled Brooks as a good father who was getting his life back together when he was shot and killed in a confrontation with Garrett Rolfe and another Atlanta police officer after a DUI stop.
“Cop who shot #RayshardBrooks bodycam shows Rayshard talking politely and cooperating with the officers seconds before he was killed. Things took a turn when they tried to arrest him for being too impaired to drive. The problem here is, he was not driving, he was parked” pic.twitter.com/1LmEeawk6S— Etan Thomas (@etanthomas36) June 14, 2020
Public outrage mounted across the country over the weekend, as demonstrators in New York, Los Angeles and other cities and towns took to the streets for the latest in a wave of protests prompted by last month’s killing of another black man, George Floyd, in the custody of Minneapolis police.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Sunday that Brooks suffered organ damage and blood loss from two gunshot wounds, and that his official cause of death was “gunshot wounds of the back.”
Also on Sunday, Senate Republicans outlined a legislative proposal to enact police reforms — their answer to a sweeping bill introduced last week by House Democrats.
Brooks’s father, Larry Barbine, told The Washington Post in an interview from his Toledo home that the family was in shock, unable to accept that his son had been killed just as his life seemed to be going better than it had in years.
“I can’t understand why it happened like that,” Barbine said of the shooting. “I heard of his passing on Saturday. Not his passing, his murder. I’m just devastated.”
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” two days after her husband’s death, Tomika Miller, Brooks’s widow, called for the officers involved to be prosecuted.
“I want them to go to jail. . . . If it was my husband who shot them, he would be in jail,” Miller said in the interview, which will air in full Monday morning. “He would be doing a life sentence. They need to be put away.”
According to a preliminary report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, officers were dispatched Friday night to a Wendy’s in Atlanta on a complaint about a man parked and asleep in the drive-through. The officers performed a sobriety test on the man, later identified as Brooks. When Brooks failed the test, officers attempted to put him in custody. The response escalated, and Brooks grabbed an officer’s stun gun and began running away.
Video of the encounter appears to show Brooks turning back toward the officer and pointing the Taser at him, at which point the officer is seen drawing a weapon from his holster and firing at Brooks.
As can be seen in the raw footage, #RayshardBrooks was shot in the back NOT Once, But 3 TIMES. The intention was clearly TO KILL. There is clearly a behavioural pattern of Yankee Cops, where they can't stop themselves shooting a Black Man in the Back, EVEN with ongoing tensions. pic.twitter.com/jAKGSgTz0m— SLIM (@Slimz09) June 15, 2020
Rayshard Brooks was sleeping in his car. Atlanta police woke him up to arrest him and then shot him in his back when he ran.
Paul Howard, the Fulton County district attorney, told CNN on Sunday that a decision on whether to bring charges in the case will be made “sometime around Wednesday.”
“He did not seem to present any threat to anyone,” Howard said of Brooks. “The fact that it would escalate to his death seems unreasonable.”
The police department has fired Rolfe, the officer who shot his gun, and pulled the other officer, Devin Brosnan, off street patrols. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned Saturday.
The University Avenue Wendy’s where Brooks was shot was in flames Saturday after a day of protests that continued into Sunday. Authorities announced a ,000 reward for information about who started the fire.
Dozens of signs and bouquets of flowers lined the fence around what used to be the restaurant’s outdoor seating area. Protesters stood on the tables holding signs and chanting “Say his name!” and “Rayshard Brooks!” Spray-painted tributes on the walls read “RIP Rayshard.” And just before 5 p.m., a group of bikers pulled into the parking lot blasting anti-police songs by the 1990s rap group NWA.
In May 2019, Rolfe was awarded a silver pin for making between 50 and 99 DUI arrests within a year, the department said in a Facebook post at the time.
Rolfe was one of four officers accused of making a false arrest in March 2015. The Atlanta Citizen Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, ruled the claim against him as not sustained, meaning there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of misconduct, according to a document on the review board’s website. The allegation against one of the other officers involved was sustained, with the board recommending he receive additional training.
Friday’s shooting has drawn national attention. Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost in her bid for Georgia governor in 2018, said protesters were right to demand accountability and should continue to push for change until meaningful reforms are made.
“There’s a legitimacy to this anger. There’s a legitimacy to this outrage. A man was murdered because he was asleep in a drive-through, and we know that this is not an isolated occurrence,” she said on ABC News’s “This Week.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) noted that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had acted swiftly in the wake of the shooting. Scott said it was hard to parse whether the police had used excessive force.
“The question is, when the suspect turned to fire the Taser, what should the officer have done?” he said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
Lawyers for the Brooks family have said that Brooks was celebrating his daughter’s birthday earlier that night. Brooks had been looking forward to the party all week, according to Barbine.
Protests continued in several cities over the weekend. In New York, thousands of demonstrators dressed in white marched Sunday to draw attention to violence against black transgender people.
In California, activists and local authorities have demanded investigations into the hanging deaths of two black men in recent weeks./washingtonpost.com
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