On Sunday evening, the medical examiner for Fulton County in Georgia released a report that ruled Rayshard Brooks’ death a “homicide,” CBS News reported. The medical examiner determined that Brooks died as the result of two gunshot wounds to the back that caused massive internal injuries.
Brooks was allegedly shot by a member of the Atlanta police department on Friday night and died at the hospital during surgery from his injuries. Police were called to a Wendy’s drive-thru late Friday night to deal with a person who appeared to be asleep in their car in the line. That person was Brooks. The officers administered a field sobriety test, which Brooks failed. When the police tried to arrest Brooks, he reportedly got into an altercation with them and grabbed one of the officer’s tasers. Brooks began to flee, turned around, and fired the taser at one of the officers. The other officer drew his gun and shot Brooks multiple times. The entire incident was caught on video.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Atlanta’s police chief resigned. CBS News reported that protests erupted in Atlanta, which was already engulfed in protests because of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. During a protest against police brutality in Atlanta on Saturday night, the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot was set on fire.
According to CNN, Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta police officer who allegedly shot Brooks, has been fired. Devin Brosnan, the other officer who was on the scene and involved in Brooks’ arrest has been placed on administrative leave. Charges have not been brought against either officer.
Calls for the officers to be charged have been made by the public and lawyers representing Brooks’ family, CNN reported. One of the lawyers representing the Brooks family acknowledged that if the officers were charged, they probably would not be charged with murder. He acknowledged that the case was less clear than some of the other cases of police brutality that have made headlines lately.
According to CNN, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard also acknowledged that the case is complicated but said he believed the officers should be charged.
“(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,” Howard told CNN. “It just seems like this is not the kind of conversation and incident that should have led to someone’s death. If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save that officer’s life or to prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law.”
Howard went on to tell CNN that the actual charges if any were brought, could be anything from involuntary manslaughter to felony murder. He said that the charges would depend on the narrative of the crime. If the investigation determines that the police officers had reason to fear for their lives they could be charged with involuntary manslaughter or not at all. If the investigation determines that they didn’t have reason to fear for their lives, they could be charged with murder.
Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Saturday that she did not believe the officers were justified in using deadly force against Brooks, CNN reported.