By: Dan Andros and Gary Lane
Riots broke out in Atlanta after an initially peaceful encounter turned deadly when police were called on a man who had passed out in his car at a Wendy’s drive-through in Atlanta, Georgia.
Police interacted peacefully and cordially with 27 year-old Rayshard Brooks until the arresting officers attempted to put Brooks into handcuffs after he failed a series of sobriety tests. Brooks resisted, ultimately wrestling free from Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. Brooks grabbed one of the officers taser guns and attempted to fire it at the officers as he was fleeing the scene.
The death has been ruled a homicide after dramatic video showed the lead-up to the shooting as well as the shooting itself.
Rolfe, who shot Brooks, has been fired. Brosnan was taken out of the field and put on administrative duty.
Brooks’ wife Tomika Miller said he wasn’t dangerous. “I didn’t know I was going to wake up and my husband never coming home,” she explained.
Protestors set fire to the Wendy’s and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned in the wake of the shooting.
Democrats are pushing to end qualified immunity which shields officers like Rolfe from civil lawsuits.
“We have to ask ourselves as a society, do we want to have a nation where police officers do really awful things…not be held accountable to civil rights charges,” said Senator Cory Booker (D) New Jersey.
But the president and other Republicans say qualified immunity is off the table. Senator Tim Scott called it a poison pill that will kill police reform legislation.
“We’re going to have to find a path that helps us reduce misconduct within the officers and at the same time we know that any poison pill in legislation means we get nothing done,” Scott explained. “That sends the wrong signal, perhaps the worst signal right now in America. “
Scott has been working on police reform for five years and Republicans have tasked him with drafting a proposal in the Senate.
Key points are improved officer training and greater transparency when wrongdoing occurs.
Also, Scott and others like Oklahoma Senator James Lankford support banning chokeholds.
“That is one of the things we should have engaged in a long time ago. Many departments around the country have already banned chokeholds. A lot of other departments are increasing that now,” Lankford explained.
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week setting national standards for police. He agrees chokeholds should be banned except in certain situations where an officer’s life may be under threat.
“So, you have to be careful. With that being said, I think it would be a very good thing that generally speaking it should be ended,” the president insisted.
Ben Carson–Trump’s only black cabinet member said it’s time for Americans to come together and calmly share
their multiple perspectives.
“We have to stop putting everything into the arena of combat and let’s see if we can find a way to work together because if we don’t, we’re doomed,” Carson warned.
Here is the entire interaction via the Atlanta Police Department. It’s from the bodycam of one of the officers. The body cam falls off the officer during the struggle and the actual shooting is not visible from this angle, but the shots can be heard firing.
WARNING: Video contains graphic content.