News has begun to break wider about an incident Friday night in Atlanta in which an Atlanta Police Department Officer shot and killed 27 year old Rayshard Brooks while attempting to arrest him for drunk driving.
Details are still coming to light, but the circumstances seem to be that the police were called to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant to investigate a driver who appeared to be asleep behind the wheel of his car while in the drive-thru lane. Other drivers were navigating around the stopped car in the drive-thru, which led to the call to the police.
When the officers arrived they encountered Brooks who was the driver. It appears that Brooks and his car moved to a place in the parking lot. As reported, two police officers — both of whom are white — put Brooks through a field sobriety test, which he is said to have failed. The length of the encounter was estimated by some to be as long as 20 minutes. But when the officers informed Brooks that he was going to be placed under arrest for drunk driving, a struggle broke out. There are cell phone videos of the episode. There is a report that one or both officers were wearing body cams, although I did see a reference to one of the officer’s cameras being knocked off his body during the struggle.
Here is one of the videos that has hit the net.
Officer involved shooting last night in Atlanta, GA (District 5) I grew up in this neighborhood. It’s time to have the conversation! RESISTING arrest, excessive force, & justified shootings😞 this young man is deceased. #RayshardBrooks #Atlanta #Police #District5 pic.twitter.com/MSogObtUZF
— Angela Stanton King 🇺🇸 (@theangiestanton) June 13, 2020
There are few things you can see in this video. The officers are not small men, and neither is Brooks. This is a very physical struggle involving all three, and one in which the officers never gain control of Brooks.
The yellow handled devices are tasers, and both officers have their tasers in their hands in order to use them in their efforts to subdue Brooks. It does not appear that the officers had been able to place Brooks in handcuffs before he started resisting.
That is a key point — the reports are that Brooks has been given a field sobriety test, and he had failed. That is probable cause to arrest him, so everything that comes after that is illegal conduct by Brooks in resisting the lawful arrest. There is no other point that can be made here — Brooks has started a fight with the two officers by not submitting to their lawful commands.
The officer on the left (Off. 1) looks like he is about to use his taser when Brooks reaches out with his left hand, grabs the device, and directs it away from his body. Off. 1 then focuses his effort on regaining control of the taser, so it can’t be used by Brooks, and at one point he is using both hands to try to wrestle the taser away from Brooks. The officer on the right (Off. 2) is behind Brooks, with his left arm attempting to pull back Brooks’ left hand, which is holding onto the other Off. 1’s taser.
At that point, with neither officer having a firm hold on Brooks’ body, he is able to spin to his left, throwing Off. 1 off of him, allowing him to get his feet under him and stand up while escaping the hold of Off. 2 who was behind him on the ground. Off. 1 regains his feet, and tries to grab Brooks high across the shoulder on Brooks’ right side, but Brooks drops his shoulder and pulls Off. 1 over the top of him and back down onto the ground. At that point Brooks is on his feet, bent over at the waist with one or both officers trying to pull him down. But Brooks is able to pull away, and as he does you see he has Off. 1’s taser now in his hand, and he turns and runs in the direction of the camera.
He runs past the position of the camera, leaving the video going left to right across the screen. Off. 2 is pursuing him and you can see Off. 2 with his taser extended in his right hand. It looks like he has already discharged the taser, as there is a white wire extending from the front. Off. 2 then leaves the frame of the video heading in the same direction as Brooks. Off. 1 is then seen chasing the two of them, maybe 20 feet behind. At that point this video ends.
I have seen another video now which looks like the surveillance camera from above the Wendy’s drive thru window. This video captures all three running from left to right through the parking lot, and although the video tape shown on MSNBC stops prior to Brooks being shot, there is no question that the actual video footage will show the fatal shot(s) fired.
The video of the chase and taser firing starts about the 1:10 mark of this video.
But this second video also shows some very important events. Brooks is only 5-10 feet ahead of Off. 2. At the beginning you see the yellow taser in Off. 2’s right hand. After a couple strides you see him shift it over to his left hand, and with his right hand he begins to reach for his firearm on his right hip. It is easy to see the taser because not only is it yellow, it has a bright light attached to the front end, and the light on both tasers is working. As Off. 2 is reaching for his firearm, Brooks turns his head and looks at Off. 2 pursuing him, then aims the taser and fires. You can see the discharge out the front end. At the time of the discharge, Off. 2 is about 5-8 feet from a small red car parked on his left. You cannot tell if he is struck by the taser or if he is just instinctively reacting to look for cover in response to Brooks firing the taser at him, but Off. 2 crashes into the left rear quarter-panel of the red car.
This second video ends at that point. You can tell Off. 2 crashes into the car because he drops the taser from his left hand — you can see him lose control of it because of the light — and you can see his head turn from facing in the direction of Brooks back to his left facing away from Brooks. It also looks like he made no effort to crouch down as he neared the car — he just crashed into it.
UPDATE: I have now seen a complete version of the second video. The fatal shot was fired by Off. 2 just after he runs into the red car. He does not appear to have been struck by the taser. The complete video shows that he appears to have been ducking out of the way of the taser shot as he ran into the red car, he did not leave his feet, and he maintained control of his firearm after bouncing off the red car and immediately fired what looked to be only a single shot, and Brooks immediately goes down. Off. 1 further behind does not discharge his firearm. The incident starts at about 23:33 of the video below — warning, you can see the fatal shot fired in this video.
Off. 1 who was pursuing both about 15-20 feet behind is either reaching for his firearm — Brooks has his taser — or already has it in his right hand as Off. 2 hits the red car. I’m pretty confident that it was Off. 1 who shot Brooks, and likely only fired after he observed what happened to Off. 1 ahead of him as you don’t see any indication of Off. 1 discharging his firearm before the video stops.
The Atlanta Mayor announced earlier to day that this was an unjustified use of deadly force, and called for the Officer who fired the fatal shot to be fired. The Atlanta Police Chief offered her resignation not too long later.
Protests have been underway all day at the site of the shooting. It’s quite likely that members of the same mob who smashed the windows at CNN after George Floyd’s death will take to the streets of Atlanta tonight.
Its also quite possible that violent protests over this incident will spread to other cities tomorrow.
One reason is because most big city mayors and state governors didn’t act decisively when the protests turned into riots two weeks ago. Why should rioters and looters think things will be different this time? There are still more WalMarts, Targets, and Nike stores to loot which escaped the last conflagration.
Reap what you sow big city politicians.
P.S. I predict it is going to turn out that this shooting was justified under any “Use of Force” policy — Atlanta PD or any other law enforcement agency. When Brooks started a physical alternation to resist arrest, took a weapon away from an officer, fled, then turned an fired that weapon at the officer pursuing him, he made himself a legitimate target of deadly force by either officer at that moment.
The APD manual states an officer may only use deadly force when:
“1. He or she reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury and when he or she reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or others.
Seeing the taser deployed at Off. 2 and seeing Off. 2 go down, Off. 1 was justified in using his firearm to end the threat to Off. 2, himself, and others — assuming it was Off. 1 who fired the fatal shot(s).
A taser might not ordinarily be considered to be a “deadly” weapon, but there is no doubt it can do serious bodily injury — including causing death inadvertently due to things such as heart attacks or strokes.
I fear this week is going to get ugly. Antifa and its ilk only look for opportunities — any opportunities — to wreak havoc. If they have sufficiently reconstituted themselves in the past two weeks they will probably be out in force in 48-72 hours to further agitate the protesters.