Rayshard Brooks' killing is 'personal,' Atlanta mayor says

NBC News
·3 min read

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in her city "is so personal to so many people of color."

"That could have been any one of us," Bottoms said on NBC's "TODAY" on Tuesday. "That could be any of our kids or brothers. In this case it was: It was someone's father."

Brooks, 27, a Black man, died after he was shot twice in the back by a police officer in a Wendy’s parking lot on Friday night. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Police had been summoned to the restaurant on a report of a man sleeping in his car in the drive-through.

Brooks struggled with the officers after they administered a field sobriety test and tried to take him into custody.

Surveillance video appears to show Brooks running away from the officers with a stun gun that he'd taken from one of them, said Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a probe into the incident.

While running, Brooks appeared to turn around and point the weapon at police, Reynolds said. At that point, an officer fatally shot him.

The shooting has sparked widespread protests in Atlanta and furthered calls for the city to address police violence.

Bottoms said on "TODAY" that officers; interaction with Brooks began as "almost a pleasant interaction."

"It didn't have to end this way," she said. "That's what's so frustrating."

She added, "It leaves us asking so many questions. We do so many things in Atlanta we thought to get it right, and this went so terribly wrong."

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned from her position on Saturday night, less than 24 hours after the shooting, saying in a statement, "It is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

Bottoms said on Tuesday she appreciated the former chief's work and dedication to the city, and that Shields, who remains on the police force, will have input on the department's "transformation."

The police officer who fired the fatal shots, Garrett Rolfe, was fired. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative leave in connection to the shooting. Neither officer has been charged with a crime.

The Atlanta police department was already reviewing its policies, the mayor said, and the shooting of Brooks only intensifies the need for that.

Paul Howard, the Fulton County District Attorney, told NBC News on Monday that his office will decide this week whether to bring charges against either of the officers involved.

"The question that we have to decide is at that precise moment whether or not Mr. Brooks was in the position to cause imminent bodily harm to that officer or some other member of the public," he said.

L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks' family, said Brooks shouldn't have faced deadly force for appearing to have a stun gun.

"Of extreme concern in the murder of Rayshard Brooks is the fact that he was shot in the back multiple times while fleeing," Stewart and law partner Justin Miller said in a statement Saturday.