The Rayshard Brooks Shooting Explained

Maria Perez
Jun 16, 2020 - 7:58

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UPDATE: The fired Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, 27, outside of a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta this past weekend has been charged with murder, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced on June 17.

Former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe faces 11 criminal charges, including felony murder, Howard said during a press conference. If convicted, he could face life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Officer Devin Bronsan, who was the second officer on the scene, faces three charges including aggravated assault for reportedly stepping on Brooks’ shoulders after he was shot, Howard said.

Brooks, who was Black, was shot and killed after a confrontation with the two Atlanta Police Department officers at a Wendy’s parking lot on June 12. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office told NBC News in a statement that Brooks had been shot two times in the back.

In the surveillance video obtained by the Atlanta Journal Consitution, police were called to a Wendy’s in downtown Atlanta at 10:33 p.m. Footage shows Officer Bronsan arriving at the scene and knocking on Brooks’ car window to wake up the 27-year-old, who was inside the car sleeping. Bronsan, who asked Brooks to pull into a parking spot and asked him other questions, was joined by Rolfe. 

After failing a sobriety test, Brooks struggled with the officers as they tried to handcuff him and bring him into custody. According to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), one of the officers deployed a Taser on Brooks. 

“Officers pursued Brooks on foot and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks,” the statement from GBI read. 

Brooks was transported to a local hospital and died after surgery. Since the fatal shooting, residents in Atlanta and people across the U.S. have been demanding justice for Brooks. Protestors burned down the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot, The Guardian reported. Following the shooting, Atlanta Police Department Chief Erika Shields resigned from her position. 

“For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest men and women in the Atlanta Police Department,” she said in a statement. “Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief.”

L. Chris Stewart, one of the attorney’s representing the Brooks’ family, said in a statement to NBC News that deadly force was not justified because Brooks appeared to have a stun gun. 

“Of extreme concern in the murder of Rayshard Brooks is the fact that he was shot in the back multiple times while fleeing,” Stewart and law partner Justin Miller told the news station.

The fatal shooting was listed as a homicide on June 15 by the medical examiner. Rolfe has been fired while the other officer has been placed on administrative duty, CBS News reported. In 2017, Rolfe was reprimanded for use of force involving a firearm, according to AJC

Who was Rayshard Brooks

Brooks’ niece, Chassidy Brooks, told reporters during a press conference on June 15 that Brooks was a “girl’s dad” to three daughters. Chassidy, who was the same age as Brooks when he died, said her uncle was “silly, had the brightest smile and the biggest heart.”

Brooks’ family is demanding justice. Tiara Brooks, one of Brooks’ nieces, said during the press conference that “the trust we have in the police force is broken.”

“The only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change in the police department,” she said. 

Family members of Rayshard Brooks attend a news conference on Monday, June 15, 2020, in Atlanta. The Brooks family and their attorneys spoke to the media days after Brooks was shot and killed by police at a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

Tomika Miller, who was married to Brooks for eight years, told CBS News that the shooting was not justified and Brooks was not a dangerous person. 

“I want them to go to jail,” Miller told the news station of the officers. “I want them to deal with the same things as if it was my husband who killed somebody else. If it was my husband who shot them, he would be in jail. He would be doing a life sentence.”

Brooks’ death comes during a time of nationwide reckoning as anti-police brutality protests have sparked following the death of George Floyd, who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.

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