An analysis of dashboard camera footage released by Atlanta police department, eyewitness videos and Wendy’s security camera footage by The New York Times shows a white law enforcement officer fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks, a Black man three times at a Wendy’s parking lot on Friday evening.
Shortly after 10:30 p.m., law enforcement officers Devin Brosnan and Garrett Rolfe arrived at a Wendy’s parking lot in South Atlanta upon receiving a complaint that a man, later identified to be Brooks, had fallen asleep in his car obstructing other vehicles in the drive-thru lane.
After ensuring that Brooks was unarmed, Rolfe conducted a sobriety test on him which according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), he failed.
The GBI further noted that when Rolfe attempted to handcuff Brooks, he “resisted and a struggle ensued.” Video footage shows Brooks in a scuffle with the officers with Officer Brosnan shouting, “You are going to get tased.”
Brooks seized the taser from Officer Brosnan and punched Rolfe, which prompted Rolfe to fire his Taser gun at Brooks who was running away.
While being chased by the officers, Brooks fired the Taser gun at Rolfe’s leg, but missed. Rolfe then reached for his handgun and shot Brooks three times, as he was running away.
At 11:30 p.m., an ambulance arrived taking Brooks to the hospital. He later died after surgery.
Rolfe was fired Saturday night by the Atlanta police department, while Officer Brosnan was placed on administrative leave.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Saturday that Erika Shields, the city’s police chief had resigned and would be replaced by Rodney Bryant, a Black man who has served as a top police deputy.
The Mayor also condemned the shooting stating that it was not a “justified use of deadly force.”
“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do. I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”
In a news conference on Saturday, Brooks’ family lawyer, L. Chris Stewart said that since a Taser gun is not a deadly weapon, Rolfe’s shooting of Brooks was not warranted.
“You can’t have it both ways in law enforcement Stewart. You can’t say a Taser is a nonlethal weapon … but when an African American grabs it and runs with it, now it’s some kind of deadly, lethal weapon that calls for you to unload on somebody … His life was not in immediate harm when he fired that shot,” Stewart said, calling for charges against Rolfe for “unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder.”
Brooks’ death was confirmed to be a homicide on Sunday by the Fulton County medical examiner’s office. The cause of death was “gunshot wounds of the back” which had caused “organ injuries and blood loss.”
In response, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said on Saturday that his office has launched “an intense, independent investigation of the incident.” The GBI will also hand over its own findings to Howard.
Howard also condemned the shooting on Saturday during an interview with CNN.
Referring to Brooks, Howard stated, “He did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable … it just seems like this is not the kind of conversation and incident that should have led to someone’s death.”
Howard also said that charges, which could include murder, felony murder or involuntary manslaughter, will be filed against former Officer Rolfe, “sometime around Wednesday.”
The question is if whether Rolfe felt as if “ … Brooks, at the 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.”
In a preview of an interview airing Monday on CBS, Rayshard Brooks’ wife said the officers should face imprisonment.
“I want them to go to jail. I want them to deal with the same thing as if it was my husband who killed someone else. If it was my husband who shot them, he would be in jail. He would be doing a life sentence. They need to be put away. We should feel the pain of those who lost their life to senselessness over authority being taken way overboard,” she said.
Protests which began in Atlanta after the killing of George Floyd, increased in severity after Friday evening’s incident.
On Saturday night, the protesters blocked the nearby streets and the Interstate 85 adjacent to the restaurant. The police fired tear gas at the demonstrators and at around 11 p.m., the windows of the restaurant were smashed. The restaurant was later set on fire by a white female protester.
Protests also continued in other parts of Atlanta throughout Sunday.
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