Excessive Force by Police Officer
On Friday night, Rayshard Brooks went to get a hamburger from Wendy’s. Mr. Brooks, who had obviously had too much to drink, fell in his car in the drive through forcing other customers to have to drive around his car. The police were called. I haven’t been able to find if Mr. Brooks had already moved his car into a parking space before they got there or if he did it afterwards. One would suspect it was done before since the officers would not be letting him drive after they got there. Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe is the main one interacting with Mr. Brooks and all goes well until they go to handcuff him. At that point, Mr. Brooks begins struggling to get away, One of the officers pulls his taser and Brooks is able to take it away from him and begins running. Brooks points the taser back at the officers and Officer Rolfe shoots him. Rayshard Brooks died at the hospital.
Why Did this Escalate to Deadly Force?
Deadly force is only supposed to be used when an officers fears for his or her life. That alone leaves a whole lot of wiggle room but where was the fear here? Yes, Mr. Brooks resisted arrest. Yes, he took a taser away from an officer and ran with it. I haven’t seen the video that shows it but supposedly he turned and pointed it toward the officers. Here’s the thing. Officer keep insisting that tasers are not deadly force. Attorney L. Chris Stewart told CNN, “I have cases where officers used tasers on victims and they argue with us in court that tasers aren’t deadly. You cannot have it both ways.”
But I know there will be people out there saying it’s justified. If your argument is he shouldn’t have resisted or run from them, I remind you that death is not the penalty listed for resisting arrest. If your argument is that Mr. Brooks could have tased the officer then taken his handgun, I remind you that there were two officers there. Are we suppose to believe that the other officer, Officer Devin Bronsan, would have stood idly by as Mr. Brooks took the officers duty weapon? You know that would not have happened.
The reality is officers have long since moved away from using deadly force only when their lives are in danger and have been using it as a form of retaliation for either non-compliance or what they perceive to be non-compliance.
Was there a Better Way?
As I pointed out above, it is likely that Mr. Brooks had already moved his car to a parking space. Yes, he must have driven on public streets to get there but it doesn’t seem that officers ever saw him driving while intoxicated. If they did, it was only on private property, not public streets. So did they have to arrest him for driving while intoxicated? Couldn’t they have ticketed him for public intoxication and called his sister or an Uber to come pick him up? That would have used up less of their time than processing a DWI and it sure would have used less time than dealing with an officer involved shooting.
Poor Policing is Destroying Our Communities
Americans are fed up with the prejudice that is rampant in the law enforcement community. How many times do we hear of an Anglo being shot and killed by police? It’s rare. It seems only black people have to expect to be subjected to police brutality. Even Anglo mass murderers, like Dylann Roof, are treated with care and compassion. It’s long past time for the prejudice in policing, along with the excessive force, to come to an end.
Officer Garrett Rolfe was fired from the Atlanta Police Department. Officer Devin Bronsan is on administrative leave. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting. Mr. Brooks was planning on taking his daughter skating on Saturday for her birthday. According to CNN, “The girl doesn’t yet understand what happened to her father, Stewart told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. ‘She thought he was going to show up at any moment.'”
None of this had to happen.