In 2020, community unrest and protests had already been at a high level in Atlanta and across the nation in response to several police shootings and allegations of police misconduct and brutality against African-Americans, including the killing of George Floyd that sparked international protests.
On June 12, 2020, employees at a Wendy’s Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia had called for police help since a car had been stopped blocking the passage of vehicles at the drive-thru window.
Two white policemen, Atlanta Police Department officers Devin Brosnan and Garret Rolfe, were dispatched and responded. Bodycam footage shows that he was asleep at the wheel and blocking a drive-through lane when officers approached.
Over forty minutes of questioning followed along with a breathalyzer test. After determining that Brooks, a Black man, was drunk and impaired to drive, police tried to arrest him, however, a struggle ensued.
During the struggle, Brooks managed to grab one of the officer’s taser and take off on foot. After a short chase in the parking lot, video shows Brooks turning, pointing the taser at the officers and engaging it.
One of the officers, Garrett Rolfe, fatally shot Brooks. The officer opened fire on Brooks, hitting him twice in the back. Rolfe originally faced eleven charges related to the death, including murder. If convicted, he could have faced the death penalty.
After the shooting, the Wendy’s restaurant was burned down and the site was briefly taken over by protesters. A month later, an eight-year-old girl, Secoriea Turner, was fatally shot while her family and she rode in a car near a barricade erected by protesters.
On August 23, 2022, special prosecutor Pete Skandalakis has determined that it was “reasonable” to use deadly force by the Atlanta officer. The officers “acted within the scope of their duties” when they began to arrest Brooks. Skandalakis said they “committed no crimes” and “acted as reasonable officers.” He also believed that race was not a factor. Both officers are exonerated and no longer face any charges.
Derrick Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NAACP, states…
“Our prayers go out to the family and friends of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks of Atlanta, Georgia. It is unconscionable that a country still feeling the sting of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, would be sitting here addressing another wound dealt to us by those who have sworn to protect and serve. An oath or declaration from law enforcement was once accompanied by confidence and expectation from the community. Sadly, that confidence has been marred under the stains of countless incidents in which deadly force by law-enforcement was resolved as the only resort, rather than the last resort. Rayshard Brooks did not deserve to die Friday night. The actions of the Atlanta Police Department underline a systemic issue that has plagued the Black community within this country for centuries. Until this nation is willing to address the systemic racism that has been allowed to manifest itself in police brutality, criminal justice, education, voting rights, economic wealth-gaps, and every other imaginable area that affords us an equal and sustainable life, America remains in breach of contract with the Black community.”
Johnson continues, “As the NAACP’s Georgia State Conference and Atlanta Branches seek answers about the circumstances surrounding Rayshard Brooks’ death, the National office will remain vigilant until accountability and justice are served for the countless individuals who lose their lives to negligent and misguided police practices throughout the country. Even as we call for accountability by those charged with protecting the community, we call on the community to act–collectively and calmly until we secure justice for the family of Rayshard Brooks.”
Last updated on August 25, 2022