Riots break out following death of Rayshard Brooks

Demonstrators burn down the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed. // Photo courtesy of Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

On Friday, June 12, Rayshard Brooks was killed by two Atlanta Police Department officers. The officers came to the Wendy’s drive-thru, located on University Avenue, at around 10:30 p.m because Brooks had fallen asleep in his car. Police say he failed the sobriety test administered to him and struggled with them during his attempted arrest. Brooks got ahold of their taser, ran away and fired once. Officer Garrett Rolfe chased him and shot at Brooks three times, fatally wounding him. Brooks died at a hospital a few hours later. After finding two gunshot wounds to his back, the medical examiner performing the autopsy ruled his death a homicide.

On Saturday, in response to this killing, which is yet another in the long series of deaths at the hands of police, Atlanta civilians demonstrated in the downtown area. Peaceful protesting turned to rioting when civilians set fire to the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot. The Atlanta Fire Department stated that it was too dangerous for them to intervene. Protestors also blocked part of the nearby I-75 Interstate, at which point there was a standoff between police and the crowd. 

Brooks, the 27 year-old father of four, is remembered by his niece as a caring “girl dad,” a loving husband, a caring brother and as an uncle she could depend on. He was planning on going to his daughter’s birthday party the next day. 

Brooks’s widow Tomika Miller told CBS News that the two officers involved should be put behind bars. “It was murder. That was not justified.”

An investigation into the altercation is underway. Meanwhile, Rolfe has been fired and Atlanta’s police chief Erika Shields has resigned. Fulton County prosecutors say that more charges against Rolfe could come by Wednesday.