Rayshard Brooks shooting ‘completely justified’ says senior cop

A black sheriff who has trained thousands of police officers says the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks — which has triggered a fresh wave of unrest in the US — was “completely justified”.

The 27-year-old African-American was sleeping in his car and reportedly blocking a Wendy’s drive through in Atlanta when police interviewed him and made him do a sobriety test.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that Mr Brooks, who failed the sobriety test, had grabbed a Taser from one officer and pointed it at the officer as he fled. The officer fired three shots, two of them fatally hitting Mr Brooks in the back.

There has been anger on the city’s streets, with the Wendy’s being burned down. A lawyer for Mr Brooks’ family said the whole situation could have been avoided if the officers involved tried to catch the suspect instead of firing.

However Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, who has taught thousands of police officers about the use of force over his career spanning decades in Georgia, said the idea that police should have tried to catch Mr Brooks was “ridiculous”.

“We saw in the video that Brooks is engaged in a fight with the officers,” Mr Williams told CNN in an interview overnight.

“They were on the ground and we know that when we’re on the ground we have a very high likelihood of being hurt or killed.

“This is not the place we want to be. This is not a wrestling match.

“Brooks is able to take a nonlethal weapon, a Taser, away from one of the officers, and he flees.

“They give chase. He’s committed two felonies to obstruction of an officer counts and he needs to be held accountable. So they were perfectly justified in running behind Brooks to capture him. Brooks turned back to the officers and fired the Taser.”

He said that all of the police officers who undergo his training are hit with Taser so they understand what it does to the body.

“If an officer is hit with that Taser, all of his muscles will be locked up, and he’ll have the inability to move and to respond, and yet he is still responsible for every weapon on his belt,” Mr Williams said.

“If that officer is hit he still has the firearm on his side and the likelihood of him being stomped in the head or having his firearm taken was a probability and he did what he needed to do.

“This was a completely justified shooting.”

He said he’s disappointed the state’s law enforcement community hasn’t come out in support of the officers.

The officer who fired his gun, Garrett Rolfe, was sacked Sunday by the city’s police department following the fatal shooting on Friday.

“It’s political. It’s senseless and we’re sending the wrong message to our black youth,” Mr Williams said.

“We’re telling them that it’s OK to run from the police, take a weapon from the police, they can fight with the police, they can point a weapon at police and expect nothing to happen.”

He said he was outraged by the George Floyd killing, but that this case was not in the same category.

The other police officer involved, Devin Brosnan, who has been placed on administrative duty while the shooting of Mr Brooks is investigated, has no disciplinary marks on his history.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard says he will decide by midweek whether to bring charges against the officers, a call that he indicated would hinge on whether they felt Mr Brooks posed a threat.

Lawyer for Brooks’ family Justin Mille told CNN he did not think the officers’ defence could rest on a Georgia law that allows them to shoot if they were in imminent threat of bodily harm, even though Brooks had a Taser.

“If you look at the tape closely, you can see that police officer was already going for his gun before Mr Brooks turned around,” Miller said. “I don’t think in this situation that’s going to come up.”

Police department records show Garrett Rolfe received a written reprimand in October 2017 for a firearm incident in September 2016, his sole use-of-force complaint in seven years on the force prior to Friday’s shooting.

His file included 12 other incidents ranging from vehicle accidents to citizens’ complaints, of which he was cleared of nine, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Two of those invoked reprimands, which were related to vehicle accidents, while another involving the discharge of a firearm back in 2015 didn’t have a conclusion listed in the documents.

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