On Sunday, Georgia authorities ruled the death of Rayshard Brooks a homicide. The unarmed man who was in the Atlanta area celebrating the birthdays of his girlfriend, daughter and himself, was shot twice in the back by Atlanta police officers after falling asleep in a Wendy’s drive-through.
Video of the encounter between Brooks and the police show the 27-year-old father calmly speaking to officers after they approach his vehicle. The two officers, Officer Devin Bronsan, who joined APD in 2018, and later, 27-year-old former Officer Garrett Rolfe, were summoned to the Wendy’s after multiple reports say an employee phoned authorities complaining of a man sleeping in his drive-through lane and blocking other customers.
Brooks told officers that his girlfriend had dropped him off at his car after they had been out celebrating her birthday. He admitted to having roughly two margaritas before attempting to operate his vehicle. The encounter started off calm, but as the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes, it turned chaotic after officers determined Brooks was inebriated and administered a breathalyzer. Brooks registered a blood alcohol level of .108, which is slightly above the legal limit of .08.
When officers attempted to arrest him, a struggle ensued. Video of the encounter shows Brooks running from officers before Rolfe discharges his weapon and shoots Brooks, rendering him lifeless on the ground. Brosnan radios for help. Emergency personnel arrive at the scene. And Brooks is taken to the hospital where he is pronounced dead.
On Saturday, Police Chief Erika Shields resigned over the incident and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire on Brooks. Atlanta police later announced that Rolfe was fired for his part in the fatal Friday night encounter with Brooks and Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty.
More than 100 protesters marched on Saturday night around the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot. That evening the fast-food establishment went up in flames.
“I watched the interaction with Mr. Brooks and it broke my heart,” Bottoms said during a Black Mayors Roundtable on CNN Sunday night. “This was not confrontational. This was a guy that you were rooting for.”
Brooks’ death comes as protesters all across the nation have taken to the streets to denounce police brutality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Rayshard Brooks will likely be remembered among the long list of Black men and women who senselessly lost their life at the hands of those sworn to protect.