Rayshard Brooks was hours away from celebrating his daughter’s eighth birthday when he was fatally shot by Atlanta police.
In a press conference on Saturday, two attorneys representing the family of Brooks — a 27-year-old Black man who was shot at a Wendy’s parking lot on Friday night, and succumbed to his injuries after undergoing surgery — spoke about how Brooks, a father of four, spent some of his final moments with his daughter Blessing.
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“He was supposed to take his daughter skating today for her birthday,” family attorney Justin Miller said at a news conference on Saturday.
“When we were over there today she had her birthday dress on because she was waiting for her dad to come pick her up to take her to go skating,” he continued. “Yesterday she and her dad went, she got her nails done and her toes done, they got something to eat.”
Despite all that had happened, the attorney said that Brooks’ family still had a birthday celebration for Blessing. “They had a birthday party for her,” Miller said. “An eighth birthday today with cupcakes, while we were sitting there talking to her mom about why her dad’s not coming home.”
“That’s the part of it that we see every day that everybody doesn’t see. And that’s the part that just, it hits you right here,” he said, gesturing to his heart. “It’s terrible.”
On Friday, police received a complaint that a man, later identified as Brooks, was asleep parked in the drive-thru. After he resisted arrest, the officer deployed a Taser and a struggle ensued, resulting in Brooks being shot.
“If a taser isn’t a deadly weapon, then it’s not a deadly weapon when I have it, it’s not a deadly weapon when an officer has it, it’s not a deadly weapon when anyone else has it. When our client has the taser, they’re going to say it’s a deadly weapon and it’s not,” Miller said at the press conference.
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In the wake of Brooks’ death, Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned, while the officer that shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, was fired, according to CNN. The other officer involved, Devin Brosnan, has been placed on administrative duty.
Brooks’ killing came amid weeks of protests against police brutality and racial injustice, which began following the murder of George Floyd last month.
Referencing the outrage, L. Chris Stewart, another family attorney, spoke about how after years of injustice, “I thought this was finally going to start ending.”
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I don’t know what justice is anymore. Is it getting them arrested? Is it getting somebody fired? Is it a chief stepping down? I know that this isn’t justice, what’s happening in society right now,” he continued. “We’re just tired. And if you don’t understand that because you may be a different color, you may be a different gender, you may not be from Georgia, then you may be the problem.”
A GoFundMe page has been created by the Stewart Trial Attorneys’ Care Team. All proceeds will go to Brooks’ family.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.