Atlanta man’s family pleads for changes.
ATLANTA — Pleading through tears Monday, the family of a black man killed by Atlanta police outside a drive-thru demanded changes in the criminal justice system and called on protesters to refrain from violence amid heightened tensions across the U.S. three weeks after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
An autopsy found that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him at a fast-food restaurant for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. Brooks tried to flee after wrestling with officers and grabbing a Taser from one of them.
“Not only are we hurt, we are angry,” said Chassidy Evans, Brooks’ niece. “When does it stop? We’re not only pleading for justice. We’re pleading for change.”
About 20 of Brooks’ children, siblings, cousins and other family members sobbed at a news conference as more than 1,000 people gathered not far away at an NAACP-led protest outside the Georgia State Capitol.
Floyd’s death May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer put his knee on the black man’s neck touched off demonstrations and scattered violence across the U.S., and Brooks’ killing rekindled those protests in Atlanta. The Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot was burned down over the weekend.
Evans said there was no reason for her uncle “to be shot and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in a drive-thru.”
“Rayshard has a family who loves him who would have gladly come and got him so he would be here with us today,” she said.
Relatives described Brooks as a loving father of three daughters and a stepson who had a bright smile and a big heart and loved to dance. His oldest daughter learned her father was slain while celebrating her eighth birthday with cupcakes and friends, wearing a special dress as she waited for Brooks to take her skating, said Justin Miller, an attorney for the family.
“There’s no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what’s been done,” said Tomika Miller, Brooks’ widow. “I can never get my husband back . ... I can never tell my daughter he’s coming to take you skating or for swimming lessons.”
She asked those demonstrating in the streets to “keep the protesting peaceful,” saying: “We want to keep his name positive and great.”
After Brooks’ killing, Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots, was terminated, and the other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, was put on desk duty. Police Chief Erika Shields resigned a day after the shooting.
Tomika Miller, widow of Rayshard Brooks, asked demonstrators in the streets to “keep the protesting peaceful . ... We want to keep his name positive and great.”
Cities across the U.S. were responding to calls for reform while the protests set off by the death in Minneapolis continued.
New York City’s top police officer said Monday that he was disbanding the NYPD’s plainclothes precinct anticrime units, which have often been accused of heavyhanded tactics by minority communities.
Dermot Shea said the 600 officers in the units would be moved to other responsibilities.
“This is a policy shift coming from me personally,” he said. “It’s a big move. I would consider this in the same realm as [moving away] from stop, question and frisk. It’s time to move forward and change how we police in this city. We can do it with brains, with guile, and not with brute force.”
Meanwhile, In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a panel of residents, activists and one police official will review the police department’s policy on when officers can use force.
Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Tim Keller said he wants a new department of social workers and civilian professionals to provide another option when someone calls 911.
And New Jersey’s attorney general ordered police in the state to begin publicly divulging names of officers who commit serious disciplinary violations.
Senate Democrats on Monday asked the Justice Department’s internal watchdog to investigate the role of Attorney General William Barr in the forceful clearing of largely peaceful protesters ahead of a photo op by President Donald Trump at a church near the White House.
In a letter to Michael Horowitz, the department’s inspector general, 21 senators called the episode “alarming” and asked for an immediate look at Barr’s role in directing what they described as “the use of tear gas or a similar gas, rubber bullets, pepper balls, and batons ... to suppress peaceful protesters around Lafayette Square” on June 1.
“This misuse of force is all the more alarming given that the Attorney General appears to have issued this order to allow President Trump to walk across the street from the White House for a political photo op in front of St. John’s Church,” the senators wrote. “Notably, Attorney General Barr was not only on the scene less than an hour before the use of force to clear peaceful protesters, but he also participated in President Trump’s photo op, posing for pictures in front of the church.”
The concerns expressed by the senators, led by Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, echoes those contained in a letter last week to Horowitz signed by more than 1,250 former Justice Department employees.
In an interview with The Associated
Press after the episode, Barr said he had asked that the perimeter be expanded but claimed he did not give the “tactical” order for federal law enforcement to move in.
Barr and other Trump administration officials have also said the expansion of the perimeter around the White House was unrelated to Trump’s photo op at the church, which took place less than an hour after the protesters were cleared from the area.
Blessen Miller (left), 8, and her sister, Memory, attended a news conference held by members of Rayshard Brooks’ family on Monday. The family members and their attorneys spoke days after Brooks was shot and killed by police in an Atlanta restaurant parking lot.
In an event led by the NAACP, people marched toward the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Monday to protest the mistreatment of black people and to press for policy change.