Photo of protests in Atlanta, Georgia, uploaded to Unsplash by Ben McLeod on June 13, 2020.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

At a press conference on Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a series of administrative orders aimed at reforming the use of force by the Atlanta Police Department. The new rules will require the use of de-escalation tactics prior to using physical or deadly force, and “all uses of deadly force must also be reported to the city’s citizens review board.” Lastly, officers will be required to intervene if another officer uses force “beyond reasonable in the given services,” with that use of force reported immediately to a supervisor. 

The press conference came after multiple days of protests following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks by former officer Garrett Rolfe on June 12 after he was found asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru. Footage released of the incident showed that Brooks failed a sobriety test and then was seen struggling as officers attempted to arrest him. Brooks in the video grabbed one of the officer’s Tasers during the struggle before attempting to run away and was shot by police. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide, stating in a release Sunday that he died following “two gunshot wounds of his back that created organ injuries and blood loss.” Newly released records showed that Rolfe had several citizen complaints against him prior to the incident.

The fallout from the shooting included the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, the firing of former officer Rolfe, and mandated administrative duty for Devin Brosnan, another officer at the scene. The Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot was also burned down and Crime Stoppers Atlanta is currently offering a $10,000 reward for information on the arsonist. 

Opinions regarding whether the officer’s use of force was justified are divided. In an interview with USA Today, Kalfani Ture, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and a previous police officer in the Atlanta metropolitan area, stated, “It’s a questionable use of force, but there are many officers who may find this a lawful use of force. So, it’s one of those things we call in law enforcement ‘lawful but awful,’ meaning that the officer could have taken alternative action that did not result in the civilian’s death.” During an interview with The View, Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings questioned whether the use of force was “the only option.” Burke County, North Carolina Sherrif Alfonzo Williams said Monday that the use of deadly force was “a justified shooting based on the limited information that has been presented on the video” and referred to the backlash as “politicization of the situation.” 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

The Killing of Rayshard Brooks: Atlanta Police Shoot Dead Unarmed Man Who Fell Asleep in His Own Car – Democracy Now! – 6/15/2020
“What we saw happen to Mr. Brooks is unfortunately something that we continue to see repeated in our communities all across this country,” says Mary Hooks, co-director of Southerners on New Ground, which is part of the National Bail Out collective and the Movement for Black Lives. “What we continue to see is police being called in as first responders to things that they should not be showing up for.”

Trump: Shooting Of Rayshard Brooks ‘Very Disturbing’ – The Daily Wire – 6/15/2020
President Donald Trump weighed into the controversy surrounding the death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police officers in Atlanta last weekend, calling it “very disturbing.” Speaking at a White House roundtable event, the president said that it was a “terrible situation” that resulted in Rayshard’s death.

Georgia police union official says Rayshard Brooks ‘started the fight’ that led to his death – Fox News – 6/15/2020
A Georgia police union official told “Outnumbered Overtime” Monday that people need to “stop looking at just one side of the story” of the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police. “We need to take all the factors into account,” said Steve Gaynor, secretary of the Georgia State Lodge Fraternal Order of police. “A lot of this occurred because of Mr. Brooks’ action.”

‘End the Suffering’: Rayshard Brooks’ Family Demands Charges Against Cops – The Daily Beast – 6/15/2020
“We must all agree to one fact: He was killed by the Atlanta Police Department,” Tiara Brooks, Rayshard’s cousin, said during an emotional Monday press conference with several family members. “The trust that we have with the police force is broken. The only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change with the police department.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Michael Moore on Twitter, 6/15/2020: There’s a new crime that lets cops execute Black Americans: “DOZING OFF IN LINE AT WENDY’S”Rayshard Brooks spoke respectfully to the cops for 26 min. Because when a Black man dozes off in line, you need to question him! For 26 minutes! Then cuff him! And shoot him! B*st*rds!

Matt Walsh on Twitter, 6/15/2020: Rayshard Brooks was not sleeping in a parking lot. He was passed out drunk in the drive thru lane of a fast food place, blocking traffic. That’s why the cops were called and that’s why any sane cope who cares about public safety would make an arrest in that situation.

Tammy Duckworth on Twitter, 6/15/2020: #RayshardBrooks should be alive today. He was killed by police officers who unjustifiably betrayed their oaths to protect & serve. While I’m glad Atlanta PD acted swiftly to remove these officers, it’s not enough. His family, & Black Americans everywhere, deserve justice.

Don Winslow on Twitter, 6/15/2020: If they hadn’t shot Rayshard Brooks they would caught up to him in a few minutes or less. Where was he going to go? Cops, helicopters, radio and dispatch coordination, spotlights. They had his car and all of his belongings. That horrific police shooting was a cold execution.

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