Another wave of protests condemning police brutality against Black men and women occurred over the weekend following the Friday night death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia, who was killed by two white police officers. Brooks, who was a young father, was shot and killed in a Wendy's parking lot after being pulled over.
Brooks, who was unarmed at the time of his death, was approached police officers after reportedly sleeping in his car in the Wendy’s drive-thru on June 12. Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan responded to the incident and, following an altercation between the officers, Brooks was shot. Brooks’ official cause of death, according to the autopsy report released by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office on June 14, was a homicide caused by “two gunshot wounds of his back that created organ injuries and blood loss.”
But on Sunday, mourners got a clearer look of Rayshard Brooks’ final moments when video footage from the night of his death showed exactly what happened. According to the footage, Officers Rolfe and Brosnan pulled Brooks into a parking spot after moving him from the drive-thru line. They then performed a Breathalyzer test on him after he said he’d been drinking and was visiting his mother's gravesite. Shortly after, Brooks was instructed to put his hands behind his head, which is where he struggled with the two officers, leading to the police officers’ body cameras falling off and only capturing a small fraction of the incident.
While only part of interaction was caught on the fallen body cameras, the remainder of the fatal struggle was caught on the officers’ dash cam, an additional camera outside of the Wendy’s restaurant, and the cell phone video of those watching nearby. The dash cam footage depicted the fight for a taser between the three men. Brooks then fled on foot around the parking lot, and, after he grabbed hold of the stun gun, police demanded he put it down. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation then released surveillance video that shows Brooks turning to point his taser at the officers and Rolfe firing at him with his handgun.
Officer Rolfe, who ultimately killed Brooks, has since been fired from his position, and Officer Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty as of Sunday. Criminal charges against both men are pending as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation further communicates with Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, according to Fox 6 News.
In the days since, the public backlash against the killing of another unarmed Black man has been swift and loud, with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms noting during a news conference on Saturday, that "I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force." Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields responded to the incident by stepping down from her position, noting in a statement that she was doing so "out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department." Now, the city of Atlanta, and the nation, mourn Brooks' death through vigil ceremonies and rallies that continue to take over the city streets.