Rayshard Brooks Update: Death Ruled a Homicide

Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by police in Atlanta on Friday night outside of a Wendy’s after police responded to a call about him being asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane. On Sunday night his death was ruled a homicide.

What We Know:

  • According to a press release on Sunday night, the Fulton County Medical Examiners Office ruled Brooks’ death as a homicide concluding that Brooks suffered from two gunshot wounds of his back that created organ injuries and blood loss.
  • Within hours of the shooting, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned from her position, officer Garrett Rolfe who fired the shots at Brooks was fired, and the accompanying officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty.
  • The encounter was recorded on the officers’ bodycams and surveillance cameras which depicted a seemingly friendly encounter at first as Brooks cooperated with a sobriety test. Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN, “I watched the interaction with Mr. Brooks and it broke my heart. This was not confrontational. This was a guy that you were rooting for”.
  • When the officer went to arrest Brooks, he struggled with both officers at the scene before breaking free and running across the parking lot with what appears to be a police Taser in his hand. Surveillance footage shows Brooks running away, potentially pointing the Taser at the pursuing officers, before one of them fires his gun and Brooks falls.
  • Reactions to the shooting centered around the belief that this incident did not call for lethal force as Brooks did not possess a deadly weapon. Representative James Clyburn appeared on a CNN program over the weekend to condemn the actions taken by the officers involved, saying, “they’d already patted him down, he had no weapon on him — where did they think he was going to go?” Later adding, “so he’s running away — my goodness, you’ve got his car, you can easily find him. But no, you fire bullets into his back.” Bottoms agreed with this sentiment on Saturday saying, “I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force”.
  • Brooks’ death reignited protests across the city after days of worldwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd. Clyburn told CNN, “this did not call for lethal force, and I don’t know what’s in the culture that would make this guy do that. It’s got to be the culture, it’s got to be the system” which aligns with calls from protestors demanding the defunding of the police system in America.
  • In the aftermath of the shooting, demonstrators in Atlanta took to the streets and called for the officers in Brooks’ case to be criminally charged. The Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks died was set on fire.

  • On Sunday, police offered a $10,000 reward for information on the Wendy’s arson, publishing photos of what appeared to be a masked white woman thought to be in connection with the fire.
Released by the Atlanta Police Department as the potential arson suspect.
  • Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced on Sunday afternoon that he is considering murder charges for Rolfe, the officer involved, saying he could face charges of either murder or felony murder. Howard later told CNN, “Brooks did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable”. Prosecutors would decide by midweek whether to bring charges.
  • Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said Brooks’ killing shows the need for severe restrictions in the use of deadly force, calling for an investigation and accountability, later saying “sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death”.

Our thoughts go out to the loved ones of Rayshard Brooks. We will continue to update this story as it develops.