By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today
The death of Rayshard Brooks, a black man killed by a white police officer in Atlanta on Friday, was a homicide caused by gunshot wounds to the back, the Fulton county medical examiner’s office has said, as the US headed into a fourth week of unrest over police violence.
An autopsy conducted on Sunday showed that Brooks, 27, died from blood loss and organ injuries caused by two gunshot wounds, an investigator for the medical examiner said in a statement. The manner of his death was homicide, the statement said.
Brooks’s death reignited protests in Atlanta after days of worldwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality prompted by the death of George Floyd, an African American, in police custody in Minneapolis on 25 May.
Garrett Rolfe, a six-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, who shot a fleeing Rayshard Brooks twice in the back, killing him, had completed de-escalation and cultural-awareness training after which he received a department certificate. However, in 2017, the department reprimanded him with a use of force complaint.
Employees of an Atlanta Wendy’s restaurant called the police and told them Brooks had fallen asleep in his car while stopped in the drive-through lane, causing other motorists to drive around him. Rolfe woke up Brooks. He fell back to sleep before Rolfe woke him up again.
In a video, Brooks is shown holding what appears to be friendly 20-minute conversation with Rolfe, agreeing to park his car and walk home.
What appears to be a cordial exchange turns violent and later deadly when Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, another officer, attempted to handcuff Brooks after claiming he failed a sobriety test.
Brooks wrestled with the two cops, overpowered them, and took one of the officer’s tasers and runs away. They chase him.
During the chase, Brooks turns around and fires the taser. He turns around and continues to run before Rolfe shoots him twice in the back.
The 27 year-old Brooks collapses in the Wendy’s parking lot and dies. The next day, the Fulton County Medical Examiner ruled that his death was a homicide.
Brooks’ death sparked a number of other incidents and anger in the black collective memory about our treatment by police. The Wendy’s restaurant was set on fire. Police are looking for two white women suspects. One of the women was dressed in black.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned to take an undisclosed position in the department and Rolfe was fired. Brosnan was placed on administrative duty.
Brooks’ death sparked demonstrations throughout the city and demands for him to be charged with a crime.
On Facebook, one man wrote about the unequal treatment black men receive from the police.
“If the police can take Dylan Roof to Burger King to get something to eat after he murdered nine black parishioners attending Bible Study at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., why couldn’t they drive Brooks home or get him a Uber?”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she would issue orders for the cops to de-escalate situations. Earlier this month, Mayor Bottoms named a “Use of Force Advisory” committee to transform the relationship between law enforcement and Atlanta’s citizens.
The council was scheduled to make initial recommendations in 14 days and to make a more extensive report in no later than 45 days.
During a news conference Monday, Mayor Bottoms said Brooks’ death increased the urgency for the recommendations to be implemented.
Brook’s death follows the May 25th murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. His murder sparked worldwide protests that continue to this day, resulting police shooting being handled with much more urgency in a break from the past.