Atlanta city officials unanimously voted Monday to pay $1 million to the family of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot by police after failing a field sobriety test and resisting arrest in June 2020 outside a Wendy’s restaurant.
Councilmembers voted 15-0 nearly three months after a specially appointed prosecutor said he would not pursue charges against the two Atlanta police officers who clashed with Brooks.
“This grieving family has been through so much during this process,” attorneys representing Brooks’ family said in a statement obtained by NBC. “Although the children of Mr. Brooks have lost their father, settling the case will undoubtedly assist them with future plans as they come of age.”
Brooks’ death came amid ongoing violent riots and protests across the United States over the death of George Floyd, who was killed a few weeks before Brooks by Minneapolis police officers.
Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks twice in the back, and Officer Devin Bronson, of the Atlanta Police Department, faced a “dynamic situation” that was “quickly evolving.” Such factors prompted the special prosecutor to drop the charges against the officers.
On June 12, 2020, Rolfe and Brosnan responded to a call about a man who fell asleep at the wheel while waiting in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s restaurant in South Atlanta. The officers approached Brooks and spoke to him for nearly 40 minutes before concluding that the 27-year-old man had imbibed too much alcohol.
Patrol car and body-cam footage from the officers showed Brooks admitting that he consumed alcohol before his encounter with law enforcement. He would later consent to a portable field alcohol test that came back above the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content. As soon as the officers tried to detain Brooks, he resisted arrest and wrestled his way out of the officers’ control, who both fell to the ground during the incident, resulting in Brosnan’s concussion.
While the officers struggled to apprehend Brooks, he snatched Brosnan’s Taser and attempted to fire at Rolfe while fleeing the scene.
Rolfe fired three bullets at Brooks and ultimately killed him.
“Based on the facts and circumstances confronting Officer Rolfe and Officer Brosnan in this case, it is my conclusion the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable and that they did not act with criminal intent,” Skandalakis said, per Daily Mail.
Skandalakis called it “a peaceful encounter that all of a sudden becomes a violent encounter.”
Just 24 hours after the two Atlanta policemen killed Brooks, rioters burned down Wendy’s restaurant where the incident occurred.
“Black lives do matter,” Skandalakis said during a press conference, according to Daily Mail. “I’ve spent my entire career representing black victims of crime. I understand that the encounters between police and the African American community at times are very volatile. But I would ask them to look at the facts of this case, and this isn’t one of those cases.”
“This is a case in which the officers were willing to give Mr. Brooks every benefit of the doubt, and unfortunately, by his actions, this is what happened,” he added.