Rashard Brooks and the Tale of Two Police Officers and Officer Discretion

Rashard Brooks

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

In the wake of almost a month of national protests, another police shooting gained attention and national news coverage after several videos of an arrest turned violent were widely viewed.

The videos captured several scenes from the evening of June 13 in Atlanta, Georgia at a Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant. The encounter ended in the death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks.

The encounter included many different moments over 40 minutes. The police were called when Brooks fell asleep in line in the drive thru lane. Brooks was intoxicated. Video shows Officer Devin Bronsan, who joined the Atlanta Police Department in 2018, driving first to wake up Brooks. Officer Bronsan asked Brooks to move his vehicle out of the drive-thru lane and Brooks politely complied.

Brooks offered to walk home but now former Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived and was against the idea. Video footage released by the Atlanta Police Department shows the officers talking to Brooks for nearly half an hour. When Rolfe told Brooks he was going to place him under arrest, Brooks resisted and was wrestled to the ground by both officers. He got away from both and ran with a taser in his hand, as Brooks turned back and pointed the taser at Rolfe, the officer opened fire.

Brooks is seen on video laying on his back moving. He later died at the hospital. Hours later, it was announced that Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields would resign her position. It was also announced that the officer who shot Brooks had been fired. Brooks’ family says he left behind four children, three daughters and a stepson.

Many argue that because Brooks resisted arrest, his shooting was justified. Many police jurisdictions maintain that use of force is decided on a “one up” continuum that dictates that Brooks aiming the officer’s taser at Rolfe justified his use of deadly force. Others argue that Brooks running away from the officers confirms that their lives were not in danger.

“That officer’s life has to be in imminent danger to use deadly force… If you look at the video you will see the officer is reaching for his gun before Brooks turns around and aims the taser at him,” said Brooks family attorney Chris Stewart. Stewart was also the attorney who handled the shooting death of Walter Scott in South Carolina. In 2015, Scott was shot in the back multiple times by former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager as he ran from Slager. The incident was filmed by a bystander. Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Legislation, executive orders and other measures related to policing are being considered as a result of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

Producer Tyler Perry is paying for the funeral expenses of Rashard Brooks.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at [email protected] and on twitter at @LVBurke

10 Comments

  1. Peter olson on July 1, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Regarding Rashard Brooks, my heart goes out to his family. Question: If friends do not let friends drive drunk, where were his family and friends when he got behind the wheel? By driving or left to drive drunk did he not put everyone’s life in eminent danger? The officers body cam shows Mr. Brooks alcohol level at108. Would that not indicate he was passed out drunk, not asleep? Have everyone forgotten to not pass judgement until you walk a mile in another’s shoes? Mr Brooks should not be considered the same as Mr. George’s. Completely different. I can’t breath. May 2013 thank you It takes a village Peter

  2. Gdashfresh on July 1, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Good points Peter. Just tired of petty crimes or even crimes that are dangerous turning into death sentences for African Americans

    • Peter olson on July 2, 2020 at 9:25 am

      Thank you, I too am tired of my African Americans being victimized by police excessive force. As an evangelical white Christian male I have some understanding of what George Floyd’s body went though. May 2013 I was arrested and handcuffed and put in the same possession as Mr. Floyd, face down knee to the back of the neck. The chest pain, gasping for air, the panic and fear of death is unimaginable. I thank God that when I cried out I cannot breath, the police officers involved had enough humanity and control to get me up, call an ambulance and let me sit in the shade until I was able to calm down and catch my breath. If Mr. Floyd’s family ever wanted to talk I would be glad to. My vision Is to hold visuals/ marches across the nation were all groups and beliefs march peacefully and united. This movement would be called United we stand/ It takes a village. If we really want to affect change, end racism and hate we need to unite in peaceful demonstrations and discussions were all sides and views are discussed. Again thank you

  3. Peter olson on July 2, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Oops sorry. I should have proof read it. It is supposed to say my African American brothers.

  4. Harley stuary on July 2, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    RIP TIM TIMPA

  5. Ari Marks on July 3, 2020 at 7:24 am

    He stole the taser and fired it at the officer, nuff said

  6. CSI Analyst on July 3, 2020 at 10:05 am

    “He got away from both and ran with a Taser in his hand.” You forgot to mention he stole that weapon from the officers who were going to use it as a non-lethal means to get the subject to comply.

    Had he allowed the officer to cuff him, he would be alive. Had he not stole the weapon and DISCHARGED it at the officer (again, another convenient omission), he would be alive.

    I was the lead investigator on the Walter Scott shooting and the state jury ALL agreed that it was not murder and hung 7-5 in favor of acquitting on manslaughter.

    You’ll never hear all the facts in that case, such as how Scott also stole Slager’s taser and used it on him. In the FBI enhanced version of Santana’s video you can clearly see the taser leaving Scott’s hand as Slager is drawing his firearm after giving Scott a final warning to drop the taser.

    For 1 minute and 45 seconds, an eternity to be in a fight, Scott ran, resisted, fought, assaulted Slager, stole a taser from Slager and used the taser on Slager. Scott’s DNA was the major contributor to the mixture on the taser. Scott had cocaine and alcohol in his system at 9:30 AM. Scott can be seen on top of Slager in a ground fight that took place after a 200 yard foot pursuit. Scott can be heard saying “F**k Police” on Slager’s body mic as Slager’s instructing him to comply.

    Had Walter Scott not ran, not fought, not stolen Slager’s taser and not used it on him, he would be alive today.

    When the blame is ALWAYS on the police and nobody EVER assigns culpability to the perpetrator who attracted police attention to begin with and then escalated it to the point where it became a deadly force situation, then we can have no truth, no healing and no training of the public that could avoid this from occurring in the future. More lives will be lost with the false narratives being peddled by reporters and politicians.

    Just the way this article is written shows how culpability is stripped from the perpetrator. Oops, he ran and somehow had a taser in his hand and the officer shot him – did he discharge the taser at the officer? Hmmm Report the facts accurately and completely please.

    All of my brothers and sisters of culturally diverse backgrounds who wear blue see the George Floyd incident as a deranged person in a uniform killing a man. There’s no dispute there because he was handcuffed and there’s no potential thread to life. It was excessive, brutal and criminal.

    When the media canonize those criminals who are responsible for escalating a situation to where a life is lost, no progress will be made. Search for videos of cops being shot on YouTube and see how quickly officers become victims of a shooting, sometimes with their own gun. EVERY fight is a fight for you life when you’re armed.

    I pray for truth to be told, everywhere. Residents of high crime areas are already suffering the consequences of this war on the police. Do their lives matter? Do black lives only matter when the police are involved? CLEARLY that is the case in this country. Police officers put their lives on the line in defense of black lives hundreds of times every single day. Let’s watch how many of those lives could have been saved as this madness continues.

  7. Natalie White on July 4, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    They killed my boyfriend. I burnt the Wendy’s down. I’m in jail. The wife he was cheeting or separated from, is on TV with his attorneys. As long as no one knows it’s all good. So don’t say anything

  8. Peter olson on July 6, 2020 at 12:02 am

    My heart and prayers go out to the family of an 8 year old murdered near Wendy’s in Atlanta. An innocent life taken way to early. Does her young black life matter less then that of a passed out drunk driver resisting arrest? Where is the media? Where is the anger at her death? Where are the protests for her and her family? Do all black lives matter?

  9. Anthony g on July 13, 2020 at 4:53 am

    This is ridiculous.. my heart would go out to them… if they even gave a crap about those officers… their lives do NOT matter to CBS or any of these leftist new stations… I’m sick of this propaganda for the BLM movement… its ridiculous… the people want indiscretion…. and yet they can deal.with being lied to or being a racist if they dont agree with the narrative… inherently racist because of the color of my skin…apparently my brain has some kind of influence from my skin color… it’s got nothing to do with having less pigment in my skin… you know… biology… but it is what it is… don lemon is a joke… every democrat supporting BLM is anti american… just sad

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