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Autopsy shows Rayshard Brooks shot in back

by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 6/15/20, 06:49 pm

Peaceful protesters marched to the Georgia Capitol as 20 of Rayshard Brooks’ family members wept during a news conference in Atlanta on Monday. “When does it stop?” asked Chassidy Evans, Brooks’ niece. “We’re not only pleading for justice. We’re pleading for change.”

Brooks, an African American, had fallen asleep in his car on Friday night in the drive-thru lane of a fast-food restaurant. He failed a field sobriety test and then ran off with an officer’s stun gun after he scuffled with police when they tried to handcuff him. Video footage appears to show Brooks looking over his shoulder and pointing the stun gun at officers. An autopsy revealed he had two gunshot wounds in the back and the Fulton County Medical Examiner listed his death as a homicide.

The Atlanta Police Department on Sunday fired Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks, and placed the other officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, on administrative duty. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office is considering whether to charge the officers, both of whom are white. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned over the incident on Saturday.

Are any changes to police practices coming? President Donald Trump backed Senate Republicans’ proposed police reform bill that would restrict the use of chokeholds by officers, build a national database of incidents involving police use of force, and label lynching a hate crime. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African American Republican in the Senate, plans to release the text of the bill, which makes fewer changes than a proposal from House Democrats, on Wednesday.

Dig deeper: Read Janie B. Cheaney’s analysis of the importance of local reform.

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Kyle Ziemnick

Kyle is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 06/15/2020 07:25 pm

    "When does it stop?" asks Brook's family. 

    To which I respond, "Yes, when do suspects stop fighting police, resisting arrest, taking officers' weapons?"  

    The liberals wish to characterize this as "a black man got shot for going to sleep in a restaurant drive-thru."

    No, Brooks got shot because he made the choice to fight officers, take a weapon from one of them, and run. 


    Unfortunately, everyday more and more law enforcement personnel will make the choice to let a criminal go rather than take a chance of being fired from their jobs, charged with murder, and all the condemnation that will be heaped on them for stopping a criminal from being loosed on society. 

    Change is definitely needed, but not the kind many unthinking people say they want. 

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 01:55 am

    "...everyday more and more law enforcement personnel will make the choice to let a criminal go rather than take a chance of being fired from their jobs, charged with murder, and all the condemnation, etc." Exactly! I believe that's the whole point. Many of the suspected, so-called "criminals" should be "let go."

    First, how "criminal" is it to fall asleep inebriated in a fast food drive up? I dozed off slightly at a long red light once on my way home from work because I was exhausted. Should I wind up dead because of that? People are getting shot (i.e., murdered) for "suspected" "crimes" that in no way merit capital punishment.

    Second, I don't believe that in a free society police should have the kind of mechanical authority that whenever they say a word, people must instantly freeze in their tracks and do whatever they say. It is human nature to resist arrest of any kind. You try it sometime. Haven't you ever seen a mom chasing her kids around the house in order to discipline them? My three year old granddaughter used to run away because she didn't want me to dress her. There's no way to forcibly get that out of people without "breaking" them. And unfortunately, that's what so many of these rogue policemen seem to want. They want their suspects to be broken, to respond and obey like cowering animals rather than human beings.

    Further, what is the rush? Why do police who end up shooting people feel that eveything must be solved immediately? If a man has fallen asleep in the drive up to a fast food, is handcuffing him the only possible solution? The problem is that he is blocking traffic to the business. Is there no other way to get his car moved than to immediately handcuff and arrest him? Is there no imagination available to think of another way to handle the situation? And when a sleep-groggy, somewhat inebriated man is gruffly awakened with shouts and rough hands trying to handcuff him, why wouldn't he automatically, instinctively resist?  My little brother used to wake up swinging whenever I had to rouse him from a nap. What human being won't begin a struggle when awakened by hostile police shouting commands and trying to put them in handcuffs? And is that instinctive resistance indeed a "crime" worthy of death? Back off, dude. Let the man wake up! What's the rush? The folk in the next car won't die of starvation if you take a minute or two to calmly figure out a way to move the guy and his car out of the way. What if he had had a heart attack? Would you try to handcuff him? How would you know unless you took the time to find out?

    Finally, police are not God. They don't deserve nor should they have unquestioned authority to arrest people at the drop of a hat in the first half minute of every confrontation. Why did the police have their stun guns out in the first place? The guy's asleep! How is he going to shoot anyone if he's sleeping. Just get him out of the way peacefully so that the next car can get their hamburger and fries. That's all. Be a caregiver rather than an authoritative tyrant. It's not a capital crime to fall asleep in a fast food line. How many deaths must it take to admit that the overly aggressive approach by certain police goes against the grain and actually encourages people to fight back?

    Yes! Brooks SHOULD have been allowed to "escape" before the confrontation even started, rather than be shot to death. That's not what I pay my tax dollars for.

    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 12:01 pm

    West Coast Gramma, a response to your question: "And when a sleep-groggy, somewhat inebriated man is gruffly awakened with shouts and rough hands trying to handcuff him, why wouldn't he automatically, instinctively resist?" 

    In an earlier report by Onize Ohikere:

    "Officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan arrived at the scene after receiving a call that Rayshard Brooks’ car was blocking the drive-thru lane. After more than 40 minutes of peaceful questioning, Rolfe conducted a sobriety test that showed Brooks was too intoxicated to drive."

    World, to prevent misunderstanding, perhaps that could be included in this report as well. To quell inflamed responses, perhaps the headline could be changed to reflect the content of the article.

    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 05:46 pm

    west coast grama

    If the officers woke him up and let him drive away drunk and he killed someone? 

    If the drunken driver killed a white person, no problem. But if the drunk killed a black person, then what? BURN WENDY'S DOWN!

  • Steve SoCal
    Posted: Mon, 06/15/2020 08:14 pm

    It seems clear that law enforcement in the United States needs to be trained in new ways to deal with situations ONLY using force that is truly necessary.  In my view, Mr. Brooks did not need to die no matter how stupid his actions in driving drunk, fighting the officers, stealing the taser, running, then firing the taser at the officer chasing him.  But I believe that training simply kicked in during the intensity and suddenness of the altercation and chase including the taser being fired at the officer.

    Mr. Brooks' drunk driving was the only serious threat that he posed, in my opinion, which is a serious matter.  They should have been able to find and detain him even after he ran off to deal with his DUI without the use of deadly force.  They knew who he was and had his car there.  He couldn't be too hard to find.

    As an aside, this article is far from complete in describing what happened, which is sad.  You write " He failed a field sobriety test and then ran off with an officer’s stun gun when police tried to handcuff him."  Don't you think his violent fighting with the two officers deserves a mention?  This certainly is the main reason things escalated in the first place.  Come on, "World".  When you're dealing with such sensitive and potentially divisive subjects, please try better to give a clear and balanced picture.


  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 06/15/2020 09:55 pm

    Brooks’ scuffle with police was in our initial report earlier this morning and we’ve added it to this report as well.

  • Steve SoCal
    Posted: Mon, 06/15/2020 10:56 pm

    Thank you for adding that important element.

  • Ed Schick
    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 08:28 am

    Kyle Ziemnick improperly titled his article and thus the incident by using language that suggests the police officer did something wrong by shooting the suspect in the back. Maybe Kyle should explain that point since it was so important that it became the lead line in the story. Many in the public who are quick and sloppy in their judgment of people are also concerned with the fact that the suspect was shot in the back. I would suggest this is not the most important part of the story and that there may be better and more crucial points. WORLD articles should not spin and make prejudicial judgments like this and especially not about those who are in authority and fulfilling their Romans 13 duty to apprehend evil doers.

  • RC
    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 10:29 am

    When will it all stop?  Since Mr. Brooks was driving drunk, it was highly likely he would have killed others with his car. It is a common problem with drunk driving. So, Ms. Evens, how about taking some responsibility for your family members?  Get them help if they have a problem with alcohol. Take their car keys away from them.  If you care enough for your family members then do something to help them before it is too late. I don’t know if anyone was doing anything to help Mr. Brooks with his problem with alcohol, but it would be good journalism for Mr. Zieminck to check that out.

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 12:23 pm

    Hannah, thanks. I hadn't read the first article. However, my main point still stands. Why was this man shot at all? and why in the back? Why did the officers allow the interaction to escalate to that point? Our police departments should be trained in de-escalation. As police, they serve this drunken individual as much as anyone. Isn't their job to save him as well as others? The attitude and stance of confrontation is what needs to change. Pehaps they should have called the chaplain over to intervene at the twenty minute mark? Since he wasn't armed and his goal was originally to buy food, couldn't four strong policemen have managed to put him in the car without pulling out weapons? I hear you that they worked with him for forty minutes; nevertheless, it's just tragic that this ended up the way it did.

    Posted: Tue, 06/16/2020 05:40 pm

    If only one officer shot a perpetrator, only that officer should be charged. One can't be responsible for the other shooting a gun. The choke hold is another thing. Those guys were standing around watching the choking and not preventing it. 

    I guess officers need to carry two tasers. One for the perp. to steal and one to use after the perp. runs.

    To declare the Wendy's killing a homicide was very wrong. Was it really a deliberate killing?

    Cops everywhere are quitting. Many don't want to deal with this. It's too much.