Video tells the tale: Rayshard Brooks was gently told to drive out of the Wendy’s take-out line and into a parking place. If he had done that it probably would’ve ended there. But Brooks was so bombed he couldn’t even manage that. And then he freaked when they decided to cuff him.
From “Look At The Facts in the Rayshard Brooks Case — The George Floyd Killing Was Different“, a 6.18.21 USA Today op-ed by Michael J. Stern, a member of USA Today‘s Board of Contributors and a federal prosecutor for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles.
Subhead: “There is no shortage of police misconduct due to racism. But claiming it where it may not exist weakens the righteous cause of stamping it out.
“That a man died [outside an Atlanta Wendy’s] is tragic. But the protests, celebrity outcry and general media capitulation that equates Brooks’ death with that of George Floyd, and countless other African Americans who were murdered at the hands of flagrant police misconduct, is wrong.
“In a headline reminiscent of the National Enquirer, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial [on Tuesday, 6.16] that was titled ‘Atlanta police killed a Black man for being drunk at Wendy’s.’ No — Mr. Brooks was not killed for being drunk.
“Rayshard Brooks was killed after resisting arrest, attacking two police officers, taking an officer’s Taser and shooting it at a police officer. The decision by the Times’ editorial board to intentionally omit this last fact is damning proof of its effort to create a narrative that serves a social agenda, despite evidence that supports a contrary conclusion.
“Atlanta’s district attorney, Paul Howard, announced felony murder charges Wednesday against the officer who shot Brooks.
“American Bar Association rules prohibit prosecutors from making pretrial statements that could influence public perception and prejudice an accused’s ability to get a fair trial. Howard violated this rule by making a lengthy presentation of evidence that supported his position and ignored key facts that did not. Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys typically refer to Howard’s impropriety as trying the case in the press.
“A new and disturbing allegation presented by the district attorney is that the officer kicked Brooks after he was shot. Though acts after an event can be considered reflective of an earlier intent, the pivotal actions in this case will focus on what happened in the seconds before the shooting.
“In Georgia, an officer is entitled to use deadly force when he reasonably believes his life is in danger or he’s at risk of receiving a serious physical injury. When this case goes to trial, the jurors will be instructed that they must consider the context of Brooks attacking the officer, grabbing the Taser and shooting the Taser at the officer. This analysis includes the possibility that if Brooks hit the officer with the stolen Taser, he could grab the officer’s gun and shoot him.
“Brooks was shot immediately after attempting to tase the officer. Despite Wednesday’s charges, a dispassionate analysis of the evidence raises serious questions about whether the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, in that split second of chaos and instinct, the officer did not fear for his safety.
“And to every home detective, journalist and pundit with a Twitter account, please stop suggesting the officer is guilty of murder because he did not “call an Uber” for a drunken driver. Having consoled many families whose loved ones were killed by drunken drivers, I don’t want the police putting drunken drivers in an Uber and sending them on their way.
“And I can’t help but think that the same people calling for the officer’s blood today would be the first to call for his firing tomorrow if he had let Brooks go and Brooks got into another car and killed a family on their way home from dinner.
“Until we as a society enact laws that direct law enforcement officers to let people go when they resist arrest, cops are obliged to do their job and arrest people who commit crimes.
“The contact between the officer and Brooks was cordial, and the officer was polite and professional until Brooks fought the officer to the ground in an effort to avoid arrest.
“Rather than mindlessly amplifying the knee-jerk outrage from commentators who don’t know the facts, people should watch the video. Then they should make their own assessments as to whether the officer was motivated by racism, or whether he was just a cop who was terrified and who tried to protect himself after being shot at with a Taser that was stolen in an attack seconds earlier.
“Should this officer have been charged with murder? Or is he being sacrificed for the sins of bad cops who should have been charged but were not, and to keep peace in a city already ravaged by weeks of rioting?
“There is no shortage of police misconduct due to racism. Combing through the public videos of the past several weeks alone could keep prosecutors busy for the foreseeable future. But rushing to claim racism and misconduct where it may not exist does not support the mission; it weakens it. And eliminating racism in policing is too righteous a cause to march anywhere but forward.”