Social Issues

Shooting of another black man by US police sparks new protests in Atlanta

By Lucía Leal

Washington, June 14 (efe-epa).- Dozens of people protested on Sunday in the United States city of Atlanta to demand justice for the alleged murder of African American Rayshard Brooks by a white police officer as the prosecution evaluated filing charges against the accused.

The alleged killing by shooting has turned Atlanta into a new focus of protests against police brutality and racism that has rocked the US for the past 20 days.

Brooks, 27, died Friday night after resisting arrest for drunk driving and being shot by a police officer.

The incident, captured in three different videos, led to the resignation on Saturday of the Atlanta police chief Erika Shields, the firing of agent Garrett Rolfe who shot Brooks, as well as the administrative discharge of accompanying police officer, Devin Bronsan.

“(Brooks) did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable,” District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Sunday.

Howard, whose office is investigating the incident, said he would announce whether or not to press charges against Rolfe “sometime around Wednesday” and said he was considering charging him with one of three possible crimes.

The first is murder – the most serious because it involves intent, the second is murder during the commission of a crime and the third is voluntary manslaughter, Howard explained.

Under Georgia’s penal code, the first two charges carry possible death sentence or life sentence while the second can involve from one to 20 years in prison.

A factor Howard will consider is the result of the autopsy, released late Sunday by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office which confirms that Brooks died of homicide.

The young man received “two gunshot wounds to the back” and died of organ damage and blood loss, according to the autopsy.

The Brooks case intensified the outrage on the streets of Atlanta, which, like hundreds of other US cities, has been protesting the death of other African-Americans at the hands of the police for three weeks, in a wave of outrage spurred by George Floyd’s murder in May in Minneapolis.

Dozens of people gathered for hours at the place where Brooks died, the parking lot of a Wendy’s, of which only the exterior walls remain after being burned down Saturday night.

Brooks died in that parking lot after resisting arrest, grappling with the two white officers, taking a taser from them, and trying to flee, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

The police went to the area on Friday night after receiving a notice that Brooks was asleep in a vehicle parked in front of the window of the restaurant, making it difficult to collect food from other customers, the GBI explained.

A video from the camera attached to the uniform of one of the officers and published on Sunday by the police shows that the officers spoke for more than 20 minutes with Brooks before the confrontation began.

Brooks, standing before the officers in the parking lot, remained calm, confirmed that he had drunk “a glass and a half” and cooperated with officers, asking them to allow him to leave his car there and walk to his sister’s house, who lived nearby.

The officers confirmed that he was intoxicated with a breathalyzer and Bronsan tried to put the handcuffs on him, but Brooks shook himself off and the three ended up on the ground, with police officers warning him that they were going to give him an electric shock if he resisted.

Another video released on Saturday by the GBI shows how Brooks, after getting the taser and fleeing from the agents, reached out his arm and pointed the object at Rolfe, who was chasing him.

Rolfe, who was carrying another taser in one hand, grabbed his firearm and shot Brooks three times, who fell to the ground and died after being transferred to the local hospital.

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