This is a stunning development involving the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot by an Atlanta PD officer after resisting arrest and discharging at the officer a taser weapon he had taken from a second Atlanta PD officer who was assisting.
Yesterday, the Atlanta Mayor declared the use of force to be “unjustified” before there was any investigation.
Shortly after her announcement, the Atlanta Police Chief tendered her resignation.
Now, less than 48 hours after the incident, the District Attorney for Atlanta is saying he’s considering charging the officer who fired the shot with murder.
Let’s recap briefly — a business calls the police about a driver of a car sleeping behind the wheel and blocking the parking lot. The police arrive to investigate and encounter the driver who they suspect may be intoxicated. They have a lengthy and calm interaction with the driver outside his car, discussing how he found himself in that situation. They put him through a field sobriety test which he fails, giving them “probable cause” to lawfully arrest him. The officers calmly advise him they are placing him under arrest for drunk driving. As they attempt to handcuff him he begins to struggle, and the struggle turns into a full-blown brawl between the three men. During the struggle, in which both officers are assaulted — a felony — the subject wrestles a “non-lethal”, but still dangerous weapon away from one of the officers and flees. As one officer is pursuing him, the subject turns around and points the dangerous weapon at the officer and fires. The officer uses his department-issued firearm to fire back and puts an end to the violent confrontation.
You can see videos of the incident in the story I wrote yesterday.
And now the DA is going to charge the police officer with murder?!?
“[Brooks] did not seem to present any threat to anyone. The fact that it would escalate to his death seems unreasonable,” Fulton County DA Paul Howard said to Fredericka Whitfield of CNN.
If the view of the Fulton DA is that video shown around the world shows Brooks was not a “threat to anyone”, then I expect it might come to pass that there are widespread resignations from the Atlanta PD.
The attorney hired by the family of Rayshard Brooks started gaslighting the public yesterday in a press conference when he said “In Georgia, a taser is not a deadly weapon.” He MIGHT be correct — although there are many anecdotal cases of tasers causing death from the reaction that some have to being tased with a sudden jolt of electricity.
But his comment is not accurate in the sense that Atlanta PD policy — just revised last month — says police may use deadly force in response to a subject possessing “ANY object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury.” So whether at taser is a “deadly weapon” is irrelevant to the question of whether the officer was justified in his actions.
The video of the DA’s appearance on Fredericka Whitfield’s show is not available yet, and there doesn’t appear to be any further explanation for the DA’s thinking beyond the quote above which comes from the CNN website.
But if he follows through and charges the officer with murder, I would not be surprised to see resignations from Atlanta PD by a very large number of officers. There are plenty of other law enforcement agencies in Georgia outside Fulton County. To charge an officer with murder under the circumstances of Friday night’s shooting is basically telling them it will be impossible for them to do their jobs and not constantly be in fear of risking going to prison.
The residents of Fulton County will come to regret supporting this DA if he does what he suggests he might do.