Experts believe that Atlanta law enforcement officers had better options than to shoot Rayshard Brooks, a black man who died Friday after two white officers shot him after he resisted arrest.
Brooks’ death came just as the United States is experiencing widespread protests over police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Video of Brooks’ arrest has sparked protests over the weekend and has resulted in the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. Garret Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks, has since been fired and Devin Brosnan, the second officer involved, has been placed on administrative duty.
There were better options, according to experts than going mainstream – the term used in police circles to refer to killings that may be technically legal but avoidable.
Ennis, Texas police Chief Andy Harvey believed the officers could have chosen not to arrest Brooks and find other alternatives before taking action.
Brooks was found asleep behind the wheel and appeared disoriented when Brosnan responded to a call at a Wendy’s parking lot. A Breathalyzer test by Rolfe later revealed that he was drunk. Rolfe decided to arrest Brooks immediately.
“How do we resolve this? Is there a cab you could call, or a family member who can come pick him up?” Harvey told USA Today.
Dashcam footage of the arrest showed that Brookes had broken free of the officers after a scuffle. At that point, Brooks had a Taser and Rolfe had already fired his at Brooks. Brooks ran.
Retired police chief Steve Ward of California told USA Today that he would have personally run after Brooks knowing that backup was coming to help, even if he had to run long stretches.
Ward also said he believed Rolfe reacted too quickly with the use of force.
Surveillance video of the incident showed that Rolfe switched between his Taser to a gun. He is shown to have shot Brooks as Brooks turns back and appears to point a Taser at Rolfe. Other surveillance cameras captured the sound of three separate gunshots.
Quinnipiac University assistant professor Kalfani Ture told USA Today that Rolfe had taken a nine-hour course on de-escalation alternatives as part of Atlanta Police Department’s training and should have decided against shooting.
“It’s a questionable use of force, but there are many officers who may find this a lawful use of force,” Ture said, but also admitted that Rolfe could have mistaken the Taser Brooks aimed at him for a gun.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office has already ruled the incident as a homicide. An autopsy showed that the 27-year-old Brooks died from blood loss and organ injuries caused by two gunshot wounds.
Brook’s death has sparked protests in Atlanta. Police are also looking for a masked white woman who set fire to the Wendy’s where the attempted arrest took place.