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Rayshard Brooks: police shooting in Atlanta declared a homicide

Amid the ongoing global protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd, the killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta has been declared unlawful.

Rayshard Brooks: police shooting in Atlanta declared a homicide
WES BRUER AFP

The police-shooting death of Rayshard Brooks has been declared a homicide by a medical examiner in Atlanta, Georgia. The fatal shooting of the 27-year-old African-American man, allegedly by Atlanta city police officer Garret Rolf, occurred outside a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant on 12 June, sparking further protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May. 

The Atlanta Police Department received a complaint that Brooks was asleep in a parked car outside the restaurant. Officers Rolf and Devin Brosnan administered a field sobriety test, which they said Brooks failed. As the officers attempted to place him into custody, Brooks struggled to escape, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

The struggle was caught on the restaurant’s surveillance video as well as the officers’ bodycams. Brooks eventually grabbed one of the officers’ Tasers and ran across the parking lot. Officer Rolf then fired two gunshots at Brooks, striking him twice in the back. The gunshots resulted in the organ damage and blood loss that killed him, according to the medical examiner.

“This account has been corroborated by witness interviews,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds stated at a press conference on Saturday. Brooks’ shooting marks the 48th time the GBI has been asked to investigate an officer-involved shooting in 2020. “People have a right to know what happened, how it happened,” Reynolds said.

Atlanta police chief steps down after Brooks killing

A Wendy’s burns following a rally against racial inequality and the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Brooks’ death sparked protests in Atlanta and beyond last weekend. The Wendy’s restaurant where the incident occurred was set on fire on Saturday. On Sunday, hundreds gathered for a peaceful protest at the site of the shooting.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned in the wake of the fatal shooting. Officer Rolfe has been terminated, and Officer Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty. The decision whether to bring charges against the officers will likely come from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office later this week.

“I’ve watched the bodycam video,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN. “I watched the interaction with Mr. Brooks, and it broke my heart when it he talked about his daughter’s birthday party that he was planning for. This was not confrontational; this was a guy that you were rooting for.” The mayor stated in a press conference that she did not believe the shooting was a “justified use of deadly force”.

Protests against police brutality are entering their 21st day across the US. The demonstrations were initially sparked by the death in police custody of George Floyd. Since then, more than 1,600 locations across all 50 states have held protests, according to USA Today, with tens of thousands of people gathering in large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Atlanta.

The killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia caused a public outcry in May, when video footage was released to the public showing Arbery being chased by two white men and eventually shot. The incident occurred while Arbery was out jogging in February.