Rayshard Brooks’ family demand justice after shooting

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The family of an African American man who died after being shot in the back by a police officer in the US state of Georgia are pleading for justice.

Rayshard Brooks was gunned down while fleeing two police officers after a struggle with them in a Wendy’s car park in Atlanta late last week.

The local medical examiner declared his death a homicide on Sunday.

“The trust that we have in the police force is broken,” his niece Tiara Brooks told a news conference.

“The only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change in the police department.”

Amid growing outrage, Mr Brooks’ widow asked that protests stay peaceful to keep her husband’s name “positive and great”.

Mr Brooks’ death comes at a time of nationwide reckoning over police violence against African Americans, initially sparked by the death of another black man, George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

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Mr Brooks’ widow Tomika Miller holds one of their three daughters as family lawyers speak to media on Monday

On Monday morning, hundreds of protesters assembled in Atlanta, calling for criminal justice reforms and demanding justice for Mr Brooks.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a series of executive orders demanding police reforms concerning use of force policies.

What did Mr Brooks family say?

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Brooks’ family described him as a “loving husband and caring brother”, and doting father of three daughters. One of his children, Blessing, had her eighth birthday party on the day her father was killed.

“He was silly, had the biggest smile and the brightest heart,” said his niece Chastity Evans, who decried the death of her uncle “shot and killed like trash for falling asleep at a drive-through”.

Mr Brooks’ shooting comes at a time of nationwide upheaval, with thousands already taking to the street in cities across the country, demanding changes in the use of deadly force by police, particularly of African Americans.

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Mr Brooks’ widow called for demonstrators to remain peaceful

On Sunday evening, more than 100 people turned out in the rain at the site of the shooting for a peaceful protest following Mr Brooks’ death. A day earlier, the Wendy’s drive-through restaurant where he was stopped was set on fire.

Speaking to the media, Mr Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller thanked demonstrators for their support, and asked that the gatherings in his name remain peaceful.

“If you could just keep it as a peaceful protest, that would be wonderful,” she said.

Why this case is different

Analysis by Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News

The swiftness with which a white police officer was fired in the killing of Rayshard Brooks is just the latest sign of how rapidly and dramatically police agencies have shifted strategy when it comes to dealing with deadly force cases.

Historically, not only have police chiefs been reticent to fire officers involved in in-custody deaths until a “full investigation” had taken place, they’ve been quick to defend the officer’s use of force if he or she “reasonably” believed that a person had a deadly weapon or posed immediate danger to the officer.

In this case, video shows that Brooks had taken the officer’s Taser and appears to use it. But not only is the weapon designated as less than lethal, the video shows he was running away and that the shots that killed him entered his back.

If the officer is criminally charged in this case, the question of whether or not a Taser should be considered a deadly weapon will surely come into play, as well as whether the officer had “reasonable” fear of Brooks.

But at this stage, what is already clear is that police departments are not feeling nearly as confident relying on the old strategies and rhetoric that historically have allowed them to slow-play their response to a police-involved killing.

Ms Miller told reporters that she and her husband had been following the protests incited by George Floyd.

“I’ve always said, ‘baby, I don’t want that to be you,'” she said.

What are the details of the Atlanta shooting?

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) says officers were called to fast-food restaurant Wendy’s because Mr Brooks had fallen asleep in his car, which was blocking the drive-through lane.

Body camera footage released by the police department shows the two officers administering a sobriety test, with Mr Brooks’ permission.

The two officers then try to handcuff him, at which point their body cams fall off, but security camera video shows them struggling with Mr Brooks on the ground. At the press conference on Monday, a lawyer for Mr Brooks suggested that he may have feared being placed in handcuffs, with the knowledge that George Floyd was handcuffed when he died.

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Rayshard Brooks (undated photo)

He then grabs an officer’s Taser (electric stun gun), appears to punch one of them and breaks free from the officers, running away. As he is chased, Mr Brooks is seen turning around and pointing the Taser before continuing to run and being shot.

According to the Fulton County medical examiner, the manner of death of Rayshard Brooks was “homicide”. He suffered two gunshots to the back that caused organ injuries and blood loss.

The Atlanta chief of police has since quit, and the police officer suspected of shooting Mr Brooks has been fired.

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Media captionThe Wendy’s drive-through restaurant was set on fire over Mr Brooks’ shooting

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN that three charges could apply against sacked police officer Garrett Rolfe: murder, felony murder and aggravated assault.

A decision by his office following their investigation could come by midweek.

“We look forward to the District Attorney’s findings,” said L. Chris Stewart on Monday, an attorney for the Brooks family.

What did the Atlanta mayor say?

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday announced a series of administrative orders asking calling for reforms to the Atlanta police department’s use of force policies.

The reforms, complying with state law, demand that officers only use “the amount of objectively reasonable force necessary” to protect themselves and others, and require de-escalation by officers, particularly before the use of deadly force.

Ms Bottoms also introduced a “duty to intervene”, rendering police officers who witness other officers using unnecessary force “duty bound to intercede” and prevent that use of force.

“It’s very clear that our police officers are to be guardians and not warriors within our communities,” she said.

The mayor last week announced the creation of a task force on police reforms, meant to provide recommendations to the city in two weeks.

But she said Mr Brooks’ murder makes “clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste”.

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