On Friday, June 12, a Black man named Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by a white police officer outside a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in Atlanta, United States.
The shooting, which comes two weeks after the death of George Floyd, has further inflamed tensions over the use of force by police and racial injustice.
Video of Brooks’ death, who had allegedly fallen asleep in his car blocking the restaurant drive-thru, has gone viral.
Protestors, who have been marching for three solid weekends in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, have now demanded an investigation into the shooting of Brooks and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields has stepped down from her post.
While most protests had been peaceful, on Saturday, June 13, a crowd had gathered outside the Wendy’s, where a fire was lit and several people were arrested with tear gas deployed.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reviewed the video footage over the weekend, calling for the termination of the officer who fired the gun.
“While there may be debate over 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,” Bottoms said in a press conference. “I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”
She then turned her attention to the victims family.
“To the family of Mr. Brooks, there are no words strong enough to express how sincerely sorry I am for your loss,” the mayor of Atlanta said.
“I do hope that you will find some comfort in the swift actions we have taken today and the meaningful reforms that our city will implement on behalf of the countless men and women who have lost their lives across this country.”
What happened to Rayshard Brooks?
On June 15, police released body-camera footage that captured the death of Brooks.
According to a 9News report, and a statement by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the incident began when police responded to the 27-year-old man sleeping in his vehicle, causing other customers to drive around him.
Police in attendance were Garrett Rolfe and a second officer, Devin Brosnan.
The footage shows that when they arrived at the scene, Brooks was asleep in his car and both body cams also showed that they spoke with him for nearly 30 minutes.
Brooks explains to the officers that he chose to sleep in his car after a night out rather than drive home and tells them that he doesn’t have any weapons on him.
“I’m just not feeling right,” Mr Brooks told them.
“Do you think maybe that you had too much to drink, and you realised that you should not drive, so you parked?”
“Yes sir,” Brooks is heard responding.
Brooks then told the officers that he had only “one-and-a-half” drinks before asking if he could just walk home.
The officers insisted on a breathalyser test and ask him what he had to drink.
“I’m not sure, it’s something she ordered, she said ‘Top Shelf’, or whatever,” he said.
The officers then ask Brooks to put his hands behind his back so they can handcuff him, while the man resisted the arrest and struggled with them for 30 seconds.
Brooks then grabs an officer’s taser, and one of them can be heard saying: “He’s got my f—ing taser.”
Surveillance footage released by the GBI shows Brooks running from the officers, and turns to point the taser at the officers before falling to the ground and then three shots were heard.
Shortly after, Brooks was taken to hospital where he died.
According to reports, Brooks, who was a father to three daughters (one, two and eight) and a 13-year-old stepson, had just attended his eldest daughter’s birthday on Saturday.
After his death, Brooks’ Family attorney L. Chris Stewart said that there were more family members at the family home “than I could count”.
“A ton of brothers and sisters that love him more than life,” he said.
Decatur Redd, a cousin of Brooks told reporters that the family never expected this to happen.
“I don’t know how to do this because I never knew that I was going to have to do this,” he said.
“We’ve been watching this happen for so many years, with young black boys around the country just dying in vain — I just don’t want that to continue and keep happening like that,” Mr Redd said.
“I didn’t think it would hit right here, man. I thought this city was better than that. They’ve got to answer. Somebody’s gotta say something,” he said before adding: “We need to at least know that the city is with us.”
What did the autopsy reveal?
Brooks was shot twice in the back, according to an autopsy revealed by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.
His death was caused by damage to his organs and blood loss from the two gunshot wounds, with the manner of death now being ruled a homicide.
What happened to the officers involved?
Rolfe’s employment was terminated on Sunday, June 14, while Brosnan was placed on administrative duty.
The Fulton County District Attorney, DA Paul Howard told CNN that Brooks “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.”
According to the outlet, a decision on whether to lay charges against the officers will be made on Wednesday, June 17.
How can I help?
Here is a list of ways you can support and be an anti-racist ally in Australia:
More to come as this story evolves.