© 2021 Maine Public
header.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Family Of Rayshard Brooks Speaks Out About His Death

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In Atlanta, family members of Rayshard Brooks held an emotional press conference today. Brooks is the black man who was fatally shot in the back by a white police officer over the weekend. He was approached after he fell asleep at the wheel in a Wendy's drive-through lane. From member station WABE, Emily Green reports.

EMILY GREEN, BYLINE: Around 20 members of Brooks' family attended the press conference, including his wife, three young daughters and stepson. Brooks' niece Chastity Evans said his family would have picked Brooks up after he was questioned by police.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHASTITY EVANS: No one walking this green earth expects to be shot and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in a drive-through.

GREEN: In video footage, the officers approach Brooks. They perform a sobriety test on him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RAYSHARD BROOKS: I can walk. My sister's house is right here.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Do you think that you'd be in violation of something if you were to drive your vehicle?

GREEN: The officers then ask him to take a breath test. He fails. They try to arrest him. Brooks resists and grabs one of the officer's tasers. He starts running away in the parking lot, and officers chase him. As he's still running, Brooks turns back and points a taser in the officers' direction. One of them shoots Brooks twice in the back. Chris Stewart is the family's attorney. He says there was no reason for the confrontation to escalate.

CHRIS STEWART: It wasn't like he was called there because Mr. Brooks had been swerving and was a danger to society. The first call was because a man was asleep. Where is the empathy in just letting him walk home?

GREEN: The fatal shooting of 27-year-old Brooks has renewed national calls for criminal justice reform, including defunding the police. Monday's press conference underscored the human impact of police shootings. Tears streamed down the face of Brooks' 8-year-old daughter Blessing. She was planning on celebrating her birthday with her dad the next day. Brooks' wife Tamika Miller held the couple's 1-year-old daughter in her arms.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TAMIKA MILLER: His name will forever be remembered. There's no justice. I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. I can never tell my daughter, oh, he's coming to take you skating.

GREEN: His death has led to more protests in Atlanta, including the burning down of the Wendy's where the officers killed him. In the wake of the shooting, Atlanta's police chief resigned. The officer has since been fired. The district attorney is deciding whether to press charges. But that provided little comfort to the family. The press conference came to an emotional peak as one of Brooks' cousins left the room wailing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Y'all took my cousin from me. I want y'all to know, you took my cousin from me. Y'all took the wrong person. That wasn't the person to take.

GREEN: The entire family started sobbing, and the press conference came to an abrupt, tearful end.

For NPR News, I'm Emily Green in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.