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Protesters with AR-15s turn up to Rayshard Brooks’ memorial as sheriff says cops were ‘justified’

Protesters armed with AR-15s and handguns were pictured Tuesday at the burned down Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot last Friday. 

His family on Monday called on demonstrators to refrain from violence amid heightened tensions across the U.S. three weeks after George Floyd’s death. 

An autopsy found that Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. Brooks tried to flee after wrestling with officers, grabbing a stun gun from one. 

His death has sparked outrage but one black Georgia sheriff has said the shooting was ‘completely justified’. Burke County, Ga. Sheriff Alfonzo Williams told CNN: ‘There’s nothing malicious or sadistic in the way these officers behaved.’ 

Images from the scene of his shooting death taken Tuesday show protesters at the scene with rifles and handguns. 

Brooks’ killing rekindled those protests following the death of Floyd on May 25. The Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe was burned down over the weekend. 

A man armed with a rifle stands guard Tueaday at the memorial that has grown around the Wendy’s restaurant that was set on fire after Rayshard Brooks was killed

The fatal shooting of Brooks, a black man, by a white police officer in Atlanta has poured more fuel on the raging US debate over racism, prompting another round of street protests and the resignation of the southern city's police chief

The fatal shooting of Brooks, a black man, by a white police officer in Atlanta has poured more fuel on the raging US debate over racism, prompting another round of street protests and the resignation of the southern city’s police chief

Protesters armed with AR-15s were pictured Tuesday at the burned down Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks shot Friday

Protesters armed with AR-15s were pictured Tuesday at the burned down Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks shot Friday

Protesters armed with AR-15s were pictured Tuesday at the burned down Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks shot Friday

Brooks' death has sparked outrage but one black Georgia sheriff has said the shooting was 'completely justified'. Burke County, Ga. Sheriff Alfonzo Williams told CNN: 'There's nothing malicious or sadistic in the way these officers behaved'

Brooks’ death has sparked outrage but one black Georgia sheriff has said the shooting was ‘completely justified’. Burke County, Ga. Sheriff Alfonzo Williams told CNN: ‘There’s nothing malicious or sadistic in the way these officers behaved’

 

Investigators say Brooks, 27, fought with Rolfe and another officer, Devin Brosnan, before taking one of their Tasers, fleeing, and pointing the stun gun at Rolfe as he ran away.

Rolfe was dismissed from the force Saturday after firing the fatal shots that killed Brooks. Brosnan, who didn’t fire, has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. Police Chief Erika Shields resigned. 

Sheriff Williams said Tuesday: ‘It’s very unfortunate that the law enforcement leaders in the state of Georgia have not come out and stood together on this case. I think it’s political and it’s senseless.

‘We’re sending the wrong message to our black youth. We’re telling them that it’s OK, that they can run from the police, that they can take a weapon from the police, they can fight with the police, and point their weapon at the police, and expect nothing to happen. That is the wrong message to send to black youth.’

Williams said the case was different to that of Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery which were ‘very clear, outrageous violations of policy and law.’

‘I’m saying that what happened in the Brooks case is completely justified, 100 percent’, Williams added.    

Brooks' killing rekindled those protests following the death of Floyd on May 25. The Wendy's restaurant where Brooks was shot was burned down over the weekend

Brooks’ killing rekindled those protests following the death of Floyd on May 25. The Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot was burned down over the weekend

The site has become a place of remembrance for Mr. Brooks, who was killed by police while fleeing after a struggle during a field sobriety test in the Wendy's parking lot

The site has become a place of remembrance for Mr. Brooks, who was killed by police while fleeing after a struggle during a field sobriety test in the Wendy’s parking lot

Kasseem Stevens, 25, carries a gun as he raise his fist outside a burned Wendy's restaurant

Kasseem Stevens, 25, carries a gun as he raise his fist outside a burned Wendy’s restaurant

A man burns out his car tyres as protesters block the road next to burned Wendy's restaurant on the fourth day of protests following Brooks' death

A man burns out his car tyres as protesters block the road next to burned Wendy’s restaurant on the fourth day of protests following Brooks’ death 

Bellawhurl and her son Prince Eli visit the memorial for Brooks. An autopsy found that Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car

Bellawhurl and her son Prince Eli visit the memorial for Brooks. An autopsy found that Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car

A protester with an AR15-style semi-automatic weapon joins protesters outside a Wendy's restaurant.  Brooks tried to flee after wrestling with officers, grabbing a stun gun from one

A protester with an AR15-style semi-automatic weapon joins protesters outside a Wendy’s restaurant.  Brooks tried to flee after wrestling with officers, grabbing a stun gun from one

Police had been called to the restaurant over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane. An officer found Brooks asleep in the car.

Police video showed Brooks cooperating with the officers for more than 40 minutes until a breath test determined his blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit. When one of the officers moved to handcuff him, Brooks tried to run and the officers took him to the ground.

Brooks broke free and took off with a stun gun but was shot. Rolfe told authorities that Brooks fired the stun gun at him.

Asked why Brooks ran, family attorney L. Chris Stewart suggested that he may have feared for his life.

‘They put George Floyd in handcuffs and he was subsequently killed,’ Stewart said. ‘So just getting put in handcuffs if you’re African American doesn’t mean, oh, you’re going to get nicely taken to the back of a police car.’

The officers’ disciplinary histories showed Rolfe received a written reprimand in 2017 for use of force with a firearm but provided no other details.

Rolfe, who was hired in October 2013, also got a written reprimand in 2018 and an oral admonishment in 2014, both for vehicle crashes. A firearm discharge case from 2015 listed no conclusion.

Brosnan was hired last June and had no disciplinary history.   

Bodycam footage shows a polite interaction with Brooks for 30 minutes before the shooting. Though he appears intoxicated, Brooks cooperates with police until they try to arrest him

Bodycam footage shows a polite interaction with Brooks for 30 minutes before the shooting. Though he appears intoxicated, Brooks cooperates with police until they try to arrest him

Officer Garrett Rolfe was fired from the force after firing the shots that killed Brooks on Friday night

Officer Devin Bronsan, who was also present but did not fire, has been placed on administrative leave

Officer Garrett Rolfe (left) was fired from the force after firing the shots that killed Brooks on Friday night, while Officer Devin Bronsan (right), who was also present but did not fire, has been placed on administrative leave

Surveillance video released by GBI shows Brooks (circled, right) fleeing towards the right hand side of the image as he is pursued by two officers. Both Brooks and the officer immediately behind him are seen holding police Tasers with illumination

Surveillance video released by GBI shows Brooks (circled, right) fleeing towards the right hand side of the image as he is pursued by two officers. Both Brooks and the officer immediately behind him are seen holding police Tasers with illumination

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he hopes to decide by midweek whether to charge the officers.     

The deaths of Floyd in Minneapolis and Brooks has led to a push in the U.S. for more training of police officers in how to de-escalate tense situations. 

‘You’ve got to get cops to understand that it’s not a cowardly act, that backing off could save this person’s life,’ said Tom Manger, a retired police chief in Virginia and Maryland and former president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.   

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would encourage better police practices and establish a database of officers with a history of excessive-force complaints. 

Officials said the order also would promote certification agencies that teach officers de-escalation techniques.   

About 30 minutes into the interaction, Rolfe tells Brooks that he believes he is too drunk to operate a motor vehicle and that he is being placed under arrest. As the officers begin to handcuff him, Brooks struggles, knocking the body camera off

About 30 minutes into the interaction, Rolfe tells Brooks that he believes he is too drunk to operate a motor vehicle and that he is being placed under arrest. As the officers begin to handcuff him, Brooks struggles, knocking the body camera off

Brooks is seen getting away from the grasp of one of the police officers during the attempted arrest on Friday

Brooks is seen getting away from the grasp of one of the police officers during the attempted arrest on Friday

A protester watches as the Wendy's burns following a rally protesting the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks

A protester watches as the Wendy’s burns following a rally protesting the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks 

Manger said that in situations like the one that ended in Brooks’ death, officers should be taught to make high-pressure, split-second decisions that involve alternatives to force — for example, waiting for more backup to arrive, taking cover or retreating.

In the Atlanta case, the officer could have ducked behind a car or put enough distance between himself and Brooks so that the stun gun — which can reach only 15 feet — couldn’t hit him, Manger said.

Even in a situation where deadly force can be justified, it’s often not necessary, he said. Police officers need to operate from the mindset that deadly force is really a last resort to be used only when they or others are in grave danger, Manger said.



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