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.
“I thought it was a terrible situation,” Trump said, as reported by Fox News. “To me it was very disturbing.”
Rayshard Brooks was killed in Atlanta, Georgia, last Friday night after an altercation with police in a Wendy’s parking lot, where police were called on reports that Brooks was “passed out” behind the wheel of his vehicle in the drive-through line.
Body camera footage released by the police department on Sunday shows that the situation remained mostly calm until Brooks tested as over the limit on the breathalyzer. When the officers attempted to handcuff Brooks for driving while under the influence, Brooks attempted to flee, grappling with police, who repeatedly warned him to “stop fighting” and that he would “get Tased.” In the struggle, Brooks managed to get hold of one of the officers’ taser. One of the officers then used his Taser on Brooks, who was running away before turning and allegedly attempting to shoot the officer with the taser. It was at this point that an officer fired on Brooks.
“These new videos indicate that during a physical struggle with officers, Brooks obtained one of the officer’s Tasers and began to flee from the scene,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. “Officers pursued Brooks on foot and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks.”
Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots, has been terminated from duty while Officer Devin Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms believed that lethal force was not justified in this situation.
“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said during a press conference on Saturday afternoon.
But Steven Gainor, a police union president, maintains that the use of lethal force was justified. “If I’m an untrained individual and I aim [a Taser] at your head, that could be deadly,” he said. “You could lose an eye.”
On Saturday, looters set fire to the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed. Authorities have offered a $10,000 to whoever provides information leading to an arrest of those who started the fire.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the shooting has prompted her to make immediate changes to the police department, arguing that Brooks was fleeing in fear of being locked up on the weekend of his daughter’s birthday.
“It pissed me off, it makes me sad, and I’m frustrated,” she said. “And nothing I’m going to do is going to change what happened on Friday. I would venture to say when I saw him run, if you all haven’t watched the entirety of that bodycam video, he talked about his daughter’s birthday. And the first thing I thought when he ran was that he probably didn’t want to be locked up over the weekend. And I know that, because I’ve had family members in that position. They get locked up on the wrong day for something stupid.”
“The task force on policing convened last week, then we had the shooting of Brooks,” she continued. “The committee continues to work but it is clear we do not have another minute, day or hour to waste. And, so, I am signing some administrative orders calling on our COO to coordinate with our interim chief to come up with reforms on use-of-force policy.”
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