There’s been a lot of debate and discussion within the law enforcement community and outside of it in the aftermath of the officer-involved shooting death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks that happened in Atlanta, Ga. last Friday.
Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks, was fired and has been charged with with felony murder along with 10 other charges. The other officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, has been put on administrative duty.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a self-styled expert on these matters, invited Cobb County Fraternal Order of Police president Steven Gaynor on Tuesday night to discuss whether or not the shooting was justified and if Rolfe and Brosnan could have handled the situation differently that night.
As usual, Cuomo asked questions he thought he already had the answers to, and tried to bait Gaynor at every turn. But Gaynor calmly rebutted nearly every claim Cuomo made about what he believed the officers should have done, and at times looked at Cuomo incredulously as he tried to exclude any available evidence that went contra to “the officers overreacted” narrative he was trying to weave.
Newsbusters’ Nicholas Fondacaro posted a good write-up of what was said during the interview. Here are some excerpts but make sure to read it in full:
CUOMO: We both know he could have gone home if he hadn’t fired at him and he’d still have a job, if he hadn’t fired at him.
GAYNOR: We don’t know what would’ve happened. We don’t know–
CUOMO: He was running away, Steve! What was going to happen? He was running away.
GAYNOR: Chris, what’s he going to do when he runs away? What’s he going to do? Now we know what the criminal history is, but we didn’t know at the time. But could he car jack somebody? Could he be scared so much that he’s going to kidnap somebody in another car? Is he going to hurt a civilian? There’s a lot of things that come into play that you have to play out and go, “I’m responsible for this individual I was going to arrest and he now has a weapon that I provided him because he took it from me. So I have to–
CUOMO: A discharged taser is not exactly the most dangerous thing that somebody could be handling around. If he had a knife, if he had a sharp stick he would be a lot more dangerous to people than just having the taser. And under the law you have to believe either he has something he is going to seriously hurt somebody with, or that he has committed a crime that makes him a danger to seriously injure somebody. Which of those boxes do they check here?
GAYNOR: Well, he has committed a crime. He’s committed an agg. assault on two police officers, he’s stolen an item from one of the police officers–
CUOMO: The analysis is about what he did BEFORE the altercation with the police. You don’t get to build in what happened in that moment with him as proof of his criminal behavior. That’s not in the case law.
GAYNOR: Yes, you do because what he does from his actions causes what occurs in his death, not the previous action where they’re all compliant. What he does when he’s told he is under arrest, a lawful arrest. They go to put the handcuff on him – a lawful arrest with detention and he fights, he chooses to fight. That causes all these things to spiral. So, you’ve got to take those into account. The first part is a whole different situation.
The segment went on for over 9 minutes and was instructive from one veteran policeman’s perspective as to what’s going on in an officer’s mind as these types of situations rapidly unfold:
“I think you can justify this case by Georgia law,” says Steven Gaynor, Cobb County, Georgia, police union president about the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks. “It specifically gives them by law the right to shoot him.” https://t.co/2Zh10E5XkH pic.twitter.com/OPYaJ1Q0aZ
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) June 17, 2020
There are those in law enforcement who will agree with Gaynor’s take and others who will disagree with it, but one thing clear from last night’s interview is that Chris Cuomo started off with an angle to exploit, but by the end of the back and forth not even he sounded convinced of his own argument.