Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old black man who was fatally shot by an Atlanta police officer, had been celebrating his daughter’s birthday on the night of his death, lawyers for his family said in a news conference Saturday. Brooks was killed during a confrontation with two white police officers late Friday night.
Attorney L. Chris Stewart said Brooks had planned on taking his 8-year-old daughter skating for her birthday. “She had her birthday dress on. She was waiting for her dad to come pick her up and take her skating,” he said Saturday.Brooks has three daughters, ages 1, 2 and 8, and a 13-year-old stepson. Stewart said Brooks was beloved by family and friends. “We watched them play and laugh and be oblivious to the fact that their dad was murdered on camera, a scene that we keep repeating,” Stewart told reporters. “A scene that we keep repeating as we watched Gianna Floyd play in Houston, oblivious to that her dad was knelt on and murdered,” he said, referencing the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody last month. “How many more examples will there be?”
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Police said Brooks fell asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru on Friday night and had failed a sobriety test. The department released body camera video in which Brooks admitted to having a few drinks for his daughter’s birthday, but a struggle ensued when officers tried to cuff him. Brooks then stole a Taser from an officer, ran from the officers, and at one point, aimed the Taser at police before the officer fired his weapon, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said, citing surveillance video that was released to the public. Brooks died after undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. An autopsy found that Brooks suffered two gunshot wounds to his back and he died of organ injuries and blood loss, the Fulton County Medical Examiner said on Sunday. The manner of death was listed as a homicide.
Garrett Rolfe, the officer who killed Brooks, has been fired from the Atlanta Police Department. An investigation into the officers’ actions is underway.Tomika Miller, who was married to Brooks for eight years, said she “dropped to her knees” when she heard the news. “It was murder — that was not justified,” Miller told CBS News. “He was shot running away. He wasn’t dangerous. He wasn’t coming at them in any kind of way to where they felt a threat, they shouldn’t have felt threatened.”Miller never imagined she’d be in the same position as the family of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody last month.”I want them to go to jail,” Miller said of the officers. “I want them to deal with the same things as if it was my husband who killed somebody else. If it was my husband who shot them, he would be in jail. He would be doing a life sentence.”Less than 24 hours after the shooting, the city’s police chief, Erika Shields, resigned. In a statement, Shields said: “I have faith in the mayor, and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”The shooting comes as anti-police brutality protests have swept the country in the wake of Floyd’s death, a 46-year-old black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.Mark Strassman contributed to this report.