Rayshard Brooks

The acts of police brutality mentioned before may seem worlds apart from our lives, even though they occurred within the United States. However, the murder of Rashard Brooks, caused by the unethical actions of the Atlanta Police Department, took place only twenty-seven minutes from Kennesaw State University. Brooks was shot three times, tased, and humiliated in Wendy’s drive-through with many witnesses. What he thought was to be a quick dinner turned into a fatal interaction. Because his death was a clear case of police brutality towards African-American males, it ruled a homicide. According to What we know: Timeline of Rashard Brooks’ death, protests, and fallout from an incident at Atlanta Wendy’s, Brooks was celebrating his daughter’s birthday the day of his passing. Because he was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Brooks grew his family of four, consisting of three daughters and one stepson, in Atlanta. He also has to support his wife of eight years, Tomika Miller. Even though he was a hard worker, Brooks had trouble finding work due to his previous convictions. In an interview in February 2020, Brooks described how the probation system prohibits one from “getting back on their feet.” After the shooting, Brooks spent his final moment at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and later passed. His death sparked a fire in Atlanta natives and fueled their demand for reform in their police system. Despite his tragic death, Brooks remains a powerful and motivating factor in the fight to end police brutality in America.

Rayshard Brooks Portrat. Image Source: NBC News

In the article, How Rayshard Brooks Was Fatally Shot by the Atlanta Police, the Times authors investigate and analyze the night of Brook’s shooting very thoroughly. After studying the witness statements, body cam video, and other evidence, they placed his shooting chronologically. The night began on a Friday night where Brooks had driven to his local Wendy’s for dinner after spending all day with his daughter for her birthday. At about 10:33 p.m., officers were called to this Wendy’s location because Brooks had fallen asleep in his car and blocked other customers from moving through the parking lot and drive-through. Throughout the next thirty minutes, ex-officers Brosnan and Rolfe arrive on the scene, awaken Brooks, and interrogate him. During his interrogation, Brooks remained friendly, helpful, and honest about the situation. They then instructed Brooks to perform a sobriety test and breathalyzer, which he failed. Brooks was then placed into handcuffs, and less than a minute later, he was shot three times. After being placed onto the ground, Brooks began struggling with the officers. Seconds later, he grabbed ex-officer Bosnan’s taser and assaulted Officer Rolfe. After being tased by ex-officer Rolfe, Brooks managed to escape and began running across the parking lot. Brooks then fired Bosnan’s taser at Rolfe but failed to hit him. At this moment, Rolfe raised his firearm at Brooks and fired three times as he was running away. Brooks then fell to the ground, critically injured. It was 11:32 p.m. when Brosnan and Rolfe stood over Brook’s injured body, showing no remorse or interest towards him. They did not perform any medical treatment on Brooks. As several minutes passed, Rolfe finally wrapped a bandage around Brook’s stomach, conversing his gunshot wound. Eight minutes later, an ambulance arrives on the scene. This ambulance delivered Brooks to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and passed away. His cause of death ruled as a homicide.

Officer Rolfe and Brooks talking. Image Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/17/rayshard-brooks-video-legal-experts-analyze-key-moments-shooting/3202332001/

According to Rayshard Brooks shooting: US policeman faces murder charge, Rolfe has already been removed from the Atlanta Police Department and is not facing 11 charges, including murder aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage to property violation of oath. These charges leave him susceptible to the death penalty as well. Officer Brosnan remains a department member; however, he must testify in the court’s case regarding Brook’s death. Prosecutor’s state that Rolfe’s acts were inappropriate when he kicked Brook’s multiple times during his arrest; moreover, Rolfe failed to pay any medical attention after the shooting. Additionally, they mention how Brooks remained calm and respectful when leading up to his cuffing. Rolfe’s defense strongly disagrees about what occurred on the night of the shooting. Along with his lawyers, Rolfe enacted a lawsuit against Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and interim police chief Rodney Bryant. His claims stated that his firing was unjust and that the use of deadly force against Brooks was justifiable. Additional disputes occurred when Rolfe traveled to Florida without permission. His travel caused prosecutors to attempt to revoke his $500,000 bond. Recently, Rolfe’s lawyers have filed to dismiss Brook’s case. The case remains a back and forth struggle between the defense and prosecution.

Officer Rolfe and Officer Brosnan. Image Source: https://whnt.com/news/atlanta-officer-who-fatally-shot-rayshard-brooks-has-been-terminated-second-officer-placed-on-leave/

Because Brooks’ death occurred at the height of last summer’s Black Lives Matter movement, the timing amplified the outrage over his death for months. Brooks’ death was the last straw for many after the recent police brutality victims, such as George Floyd. In the article, Protesters march on Atlanta Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed, the authors depict the “Take me back to Wendy’s” rallies meant to honor Brooks and fight for his justice. Weeks before the protest occurred, arsonists gutted and lit a match at the University Avenue Wendy’s. About 120 protesters attended this event. As officers stood near, they voiced their claims to make the lot where Brooks’ was shot into a community peace center. Wendy’s was the rallies’ central location; however, others bloomed on I75/85 and across the city. Graffiti and posters that showed love towards Brooks and pushed for his justice covered Atlanta’s streets. Rayshard Brooks’ Four Children Awarded Full Scholarships to Georgia College mentions how other outrages members of Atlanta helped fight this tragedy. Rayshard Brooks’s death angered many, but specifically Atlanta’s famous “Slutty Vegan” restaurant CEO, Aisha “Pinky” Cole. Cole, along with the help of Clark Atlanta University. With their partnership, Cole and Clark Atlanta University provided all four of Brooks’ children with full scholarships. These scholarships will not only offer them a “world-class education” but also lead them on their “pathway to success.”

Rayshard Brooks Protesters. Image Source: https://theintercept.com/2020/06/17/atlanta-protests-rayshard-brooks-police/

Even with the overall support and love demonstrated by Atlanta and the rest of America, Brooks’ death remains a tragedy. Rayshard Brooks remains a victim of police brutality toward African-American men. We must fight against the systematic inequality and racism that puts our African-American men and youth at risk. We must stand as one to end the terrifying presence of police brutality in America.




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Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

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