Rayshard Brooks’ family demand justice after shooting

The family of Rayshard Brooks says they are pleading for justice and a change in policing in the wake of his death.

Mr Brooks, who was African American, died while fleeing from two police officers in a restaurant car park in Atlanta, Georgia late last week.

The local medical examiner declared his death a homicide on Sunday.

“The trust that we have in the police force is broken,” his niece Tiara Brooks said on Monday during an emotional news conference.

“The only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change in the police department.”

Amid growing outrage, Mr Brooks’ widow asked that protests stay peaceful to keep her husband’s name “positive and great”.

Mr Brooks’ death comes at a time of nationwide reckoning over police violence against African Americans, initially sparked by the death of another black man, George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

On Monday morning, hundreds of protesters assembled in Atlanta on Monday calling for criminal justice reforms and demanding justice for Mr Brooks.

What did Mr Brooks family say?

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Brooks’ family described him as a “loving husband and caring brother”, and doting father of three daughters. One of his children, Blessing, had her eighth birthday party on the day her father was killed.

“He was silly, had the biggest smile and the brightest heart,” said his niece Chastity Evans, who decried the death of her uncle “shot and killed like trash for falling asleep at a drive-through”.

Mr Brooks’ shooting comes at a time of nationwide upheaval, with thousands already taking to the street in cities across the country, demanding changes in the use of deadly force by police, particularly of African Americans.

On Sunday evening, more than 100 people turned out in the rain at the site of the shooting for a peaceful protest following Mr Brooks’ death. The day prior, the Wendy’s drive-through restaurant where he was stopped was set on fire.

Speaking to the media, Mr Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller thanked demonstrators for their support, and asked that the gatherings in his name remain peaceful.

“If you could just keep it as a peaceful protest, that would be wonderful,” she said.

Why this case is different

Analysis by Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News

The swiftness with which a white police officer was fired in the killing of Rayshard Brooks is just the latest sign of how rapidly and dramatically police agencies have shifted strategy when it comes to dealing with deadly force cases.

Historically, not only have police chiefs been reticent to fire officers involved in in-custody deaths until a “full investigation” had taken place, they’ve been quick to defend the officer’s use of force if he or she “reasonably” believed that a person had a deadly weapon or posed immediate danger to the officer.

In this case, video shows that Brooks had taken the officer’s Taser and appears to use it. But not only is the weapon non-lethal, the video shows he was running away and that the shots that killed him entered his back.

If the officer is criminally charged in this case, the question of whether or not a Taser should be considered a deadly weapon will surely come into play, as well as whether the officer had “reasonable” fear of Brooks.

But at this stage, what is already clear is that police departments are not feeling nearly as confident relying on the old strategies and rhetoric that historically have allowed them to slow-play their response to a police-involved killing.

Ms Miller told reporters that she and her husband had been following the protests incited by George Floyd.

“I’ve always said, ‘baby, I don’t want that to be you,'” she said.

What are the details of the Atlanta shooting?

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) says officers were called to fast-food restaurant Wendy’s because Mr Brooks had fallen asleep in his car, which was blocking the drive-through lane.

Body camera footage released by the police department shows the two officers administering a sobriety test, with Mr Brooks’ permission.

The two officers then try to handcuff him, at which point their body cams fall off, but security camera video shows them struggling with Mr Brooks on the ground. At the press conference on Monday, a lawyer for Mr Brooks suggested that he may have feared being placed in handcuffs, with the knowledge that George Floyd, who was handcuffed when he died.

He then grabs an officer’s Taser (electric stun gun) and breaks free from the officers, running away. As he is chased, Mr Brooks is seen turning around and pointing the Taser before continuing to run and being shot.

According to the Fulton County medical examiner, the manner of death of Rayshard Brooks was “homicide”. He suffered two gunshots to the back that caused organ injuries and blood loss.

The Atlanta chief of police has since quit, and the police officer suspected of shooting Mr Brooks has been fired.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN that three charges could apply against sacked police officer Garrett Rolfe: murder, felony murder and aggravated assault.

A decision by his office following their investigation could come by midweek.

“We look forward to the District Attorney’s findings,” said L. Chris Stewart on Monday, an attorney for the Brooks family.

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