Atlanta Police have released body cam footage of the scuffle that led to an officer shooting dead unarmed black man Rayshard Brooks after the scene of the death was set on fire by protesters.
The 27-year-old man was sleeping in his car and reportedly blocking a Wendy’s drive through when police interviewed him and made him do a sobriety test.
The footage shows the two officers speaking with the man for 27 minutes before they attempt to handcuff him.
Towards the end of the conversation, Mr Brooks is questioned about why he was asleep and how many drinks he had consumed in the evening.
The officer, who has been identified as Garrett Rolfe, asks the man: “You had about one-and-a-half drinks, but you don’t know what kind of drinks?
“I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving.”
At this point, the officer attempts to handcuff Mr Brooks before a scuffle breaks out and the body cam falls to the ground and doesn’t capture the rest of the events that lead to the death.
It’s reported that Mr Brooks took a taser from the officer before being tasered by the other and then is struck by a short series of shots as he tried to run away. Though the camera doesn’t capture this, the taser and gunshots can be heard as well as the officers repeatedly yelling “stop”.
Atlanta Police confirmed the officer, Mr Rolfe, has been sacked while the other policeman, David Bronsan, has been placed on administrative duty.
The city’s police chief Erika Shields had also resigned over the incident, announced by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who demanded the officer responsible for the death be fired.
“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” Ms Bottoms told reporters.
“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.
“What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honour, respect and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect.”
SITE OF MURDER BURNED BY PROTESTERS
A crowd of more than 150 demonstrators gathered at the scene of the shooting, a Wendy’s fast food restaurant, and set the business on fire.
“The people are upset,” lawyer and vice president of Atlanta’s NAACP chapter Gerald Griggs said.
“They want to know why their dear brother Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed when he was merely asleep on the passenger side and not doing anything.”
Even though Brooks struggled with officers, Mr Griggs said, “They could have used nonlethal force to take him down.”
The shooting comes at a time of heightened tension over police brutality and calls for reforms across the US following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Atlanta was among US cities where large crowds of protesters took to the streets.
VIDEO REVEALS VICTIM WAS RUNNING AWAY
Before the officer’s body cam footage was released, surveillance video footage of the moment Mr Brooks was chased and shot has been released.
The footage, released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, shows Mr Brooks firing a Taser toward the officer, who chased him through the car park before shooting and killing him.
A video posted to social media showed Mr Brooks grappling with two officers attempting to arrest him, with one appearing to try to stun him with the Taser after Mr Brooks threw a punch at him.
As Mr Brooks ran away, appearing to hold the Taser, one officer chased after him, holding another stun gun. Then, in one video, several gunshots were heard.
The GBI initially said in a statement that witnesses described Mr Brooks being shot “in the struggle over the Taser”.
But after obtaining Wendy’s surveillance video, the bureau revised its account, saying it “was based on the officer’s body cam which was knocked off during the physical struggle, preventing the capture of the entire shooting incident”.
“During the chase, Mr Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer,” the bureau said, adding that “the officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks”.
A lawyer for Mr Brooks’ family, Chris Stewart, has disputed the official account of the shooting, saying officers put on plastic gloves and picked up their shell casings before rendering first aid to Mr Brooks.
Mr Stewart said officers waited more than two minutes before they checked Mr Brooks for a pulse.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was asked by the Atlanta Police Department to investigate the incident, and anger has swept across the US over the deadly police shooting, which comes amid the Black Lives Matter movement and protests over George Floyd’s death.
“The killing of #RayshardBrooks in Atlanta last night demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force,” former Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams wrote in a tweet.
“Yes, investigations must be called for – but so too should accountability. Sleeping in a drive-through must not end in death.”
“Why would you shoot a drunk man running away from you with deadly force? #RayshardBrooks should be alive today – he fell asleep at a drive-through and is now dead as a result of police action. This has to end,” political commentator Andrew Yang tweeted.
“Struggling with police is not punishable by death. Grabbing a taser to stop from being tased isn’t punishable by death. Running away from police on foot, unarmed isn’t punishable by death. But the Atlanta police murdered #RayshardBrooks,” another user wrote.