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Family of Rayshard Brooks demands justice after Atlanta police fatally shoot him in the back – Reuters

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Relatives of Rayshard Brooks, many of them in tears, called for justice and “drastic change” in policing after a white Atlanta officer fatally shot the African-American man in the back, and the city’s mayor called for a shake-up in the force.

The death of 27-year-old Brooks, which the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office ruled a homicide, was the latest killing of a black man to spark nationwide outrage at police brutality and racial injustice.

“We’re tired and we are frustrated. Most importantly we’re heartbroken, so we need justice for Rayshard Brooks,” his cousin, Tiara Brooks, said at a news conference.

“The trust that 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 added.

Relatives spoke of Brooks as a warm family man who loved to take his daughter skating. One man, after breaking down in tears, left distraught, shouting, “Somebody took my cousin!”

More than 1,000 people marched on the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta on Monday, calling for justice for Brooks and other slain African Americans.

“We are going to take over the capitol every single day until they do their job,” the Rev. James Woodall, president of the state NAACP civil rights group, told the crowd, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media reported.

As the crowd chanted for justice, the Georgia Assembly rebooted its 2020 session with a renewed call to pass a hate-crime law. Georgia is one of four U.S. states without such a law, which increases punishment for offenses deemed to be racially motivated.

The death of Brooks, and the separate shooting of a black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, near the coastal town of Brunswick in February involving a former law enforcement officer, has driven calls for racial justice in Georgia.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms announced immediate reforms within the police department, including orders requiring police officers to de-escalate situations and requiring officers to intervene when they see a colleague using excessive force.

Bottoms told a media briefing that she was heartbroken and angry over Brooks’ death.

“It pissed me off, it makes me sad, it makes me frustrated and there’s nothing I can say that will change what happened Friday.”

She said she could not wait for an advisory council to come up with police reform recommendations.

Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe searches 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot in a still image from the video body camera of officer Devin Bronsan in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 12, 2020. Video taken June 12, 2020. Atlanta Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

“It was clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour, to waste,” she said, adding the police must find better ways to handle confrontations.

Vince Champion, southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, urged against a rush to judgment.

“We don’t know everything. We are basing what we saw on a video that has no context to it,” Champion told Reuters. “I do believe that the powers that be – the mayor and the DA are just trying to appease the rioters.”

President Donald Trump told reporters the shooting in Atlanta was “a terrible situation” and “very disturbing”.


The fatal encounter on Friday night began when police responded to a call Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in a Wendy’s restaurant drive-through lane.

Caught on video, the encounter seemed friendly at first but when an officer moved to arrest him, Brooks struggled with him and another officer before breaking away across the parking lot with what appeared to be a police Taser in his hand.

A video from the restaurant’s cameras showed Brooks turning as he ran and possibly aiming the Taser at the pursuing officers, both white, before one of them fired his gun and Brooks fell.

An attorney for Brooks’ family, Chris Stewart, said the police should have let Brooks walk home rather than pursue and shoot him.

“It didn’t have to go to that level,” he said. “Where is the empathy in just letting him walk home?”

Atlanta’s police chief, Erika Shields, resigned over the shooting. The officer suspected of killing Brooks was fired, and the other officer involved was put on administrative leave.

Prosecutors will decide by midweek whether to bring charges, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said on Sunday.

Brooks’ death reignited protests in Atlanta after worldwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality prompted by the death of black American George Floyd when a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.

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Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, implored the public to protest peacefully in her husband’s name.

“We want to keep his name positive,” she said.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Gabriella Borter, Nathan Layne and Rich McKay; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Jonathan Oatis, Howard Goller and David Greorio

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Who is Rayshard Brooks? Father of 4 celebrated daughter’s birthday hours before police shot him in Atlanta – USA TODAY


Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks was shot by an officer during a struggle and died after surgery, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.


ATLANTA – Hours before police shot him outside a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in Atlanta on Friday, Rayshard Brooks had done what dads do: enjoyed a father-daughter day in honor of his little girl’s eighth birthday.     

The party was supposed to roll into the next day with a skating celebration. But Brooks, 27, would not be there.

The father of four was shot by an Atlanta police officer while fleeing during a struggle at a Wendy’s drive-thru late Friday night and died at a local hospital, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Brooks had been asleep in his car at the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around the vehicle, GBI said.

Police were dispatched to the Wendy’s around 10:30 p.m. and conducted a sobriety exam on Brooks, who failed the test and then resisted officers’ attempts to arrest him, according to investigators.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds said Brooks had grabbed a Taser from one officer and appeared to point it at the officer as he fled. The officer fired an estimated three shots.

Latest news: Atlanta officer fired, video released in shooting of Rayshard Brooks: ‘It’s got to be the culture’

Family attorney Justin Miller said Brooks took his daughter to get her nails done and something to eat on Friday. On Saturday she put on a special dress for the second round of the big occasion, awaiting her dad.

“She had her birthday dress on because she was waiting for her dad to come pick her up to take her to go skating,” Brooks said at a Saturday news conference. “While we were over there they had a birthday party for her eighth birthday today with cupcakes … while we were sitting there talking with her mom about why her dad’s not coming home.”

Another family attorney,  L. Chris Stewart, said Brooks worked at a “tortilla place.” He said the officer who shot Brooks should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder.”

Stewart said attorneys were with the family on Saturday and watched the children “play and laugh and be oblivious to the facts that their dad was murdered.”

“You can’t have it both ways in law enforcement,” Stewart said. “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.”

George Floyd is not alone: ‘I can’t breathe’ uttered by dozens in fatal police holds across U.S.

The shooting comes as the nation grapples with issues of race and police brutality after the May 25 death of George Floyd who was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes. Floyd’s death sparked three weeks of protests in cities large and small across the U.S. 


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The officer involved in the Brooks shooting was fired and another was placed on administrative duty, the police department announced Sunday. The police department released body camera and dash camera footage from both officers. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields also stepped down.

Crystal Brooks, who said she is Rayshard Brooks’ sister-in-law, joined protesters outside the Atlanta Wendy’s on Saturday night. 

“He wasn’t causing anyone any harm,” she said. “The police went up to the car and even though the car was parked they pulled him out of the car and started tussling with him. He did grab the Taser, but he just grabbed the Taser and ran.”

Ellis reported from Atlanta; Miller from Arlington, Va. Contributing: The Associated Press

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