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Who was Rayshard Brooks?

The first 29 minutes don’t prepare you for the all-too-familiar tragedy that follows: a white police officer, a black male victim, lethal gunshots and questions about whether any of it was justified. It happened again in Atlanta Friday night, when Officer Garrett Rolfe fired three times at a fleeing Rayshard Brooks. Both men, 27 years old. The shooting would set off a stunning chain of events, culminating in the resignation early Saturday night by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. (Video edited by Ryon Horne, Christian Boone)
The first 29 minutes don’t prepare you for the all-too-familiar tragedy that follows: a white police officer, a black male victim, lethal gunshots and questions about whether any of it was justified. It happened again in Atlanta Friday night, when Officer Garrett Rolfe fired three times at a fleeing Rayshard Brooks. Both men, 27 years old. The shooting would set off a stunning chain of events, culminating in the resignation early Saturday night by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. (Video edited by Ryon Horne, Christian Boone)

Rayshard Brooks was shot late Friday by a police officer outside a Wendy’s restaurant on the city’s southside.

Brooks, an African-American, was shot in the back and killed at a downtown Wendy’s restaurant by an Atlanta police officer, who is white. APD was called to the scene to check on Brooks, who had fallen asleep in his car.

He was shot as he tried to flee with a taser in hand.

READ MORE: Protesters set Wendy's on fire, enter interstate after Atlanta death

Family photo of Rayshard Brooks provided by family attorneys.
Family photo of Rayshard Brooks provided by family attorneys.

Brooks was a 27-year-old Atlanta father of three daughters. He was planning to pick up his 8-year-old daughter on Saturday and take her skating to celebrate her birthday.

Brooks’ three daughters are 1, 2 and 8 years old, according to family attorneys. He also has a 13-year-old stepson, they said.

He worked at a Mexican restaurant, according to a family attorney.

 

John Wade, a 34-year-old family friend, described Brooks as “an outstanding person.” Wade said Brooks was outgoing, easy going, and “rarely in any trouble at all.”

“He was kind and rarely even used cuss words,” said Wade who lives in Atlanta. Wade said when he first saw a video posted online of Brooks at the Wendy’s, he rushed to the fast-food restaurant, but had no idea it was his friend shot dead.

“I don’t understand how this happened,” he said. “I am disappointed in the police: they could have let him run, his car was there, so they could get his license plate and find him.”

The family's attorneys with Stewart Trial Attorneys set up a Gofund account for Brooks' wife and children.

A restoration company in Ohio also posted the following about Wade which appears to indicate he worked for the company at one point.

View this post on Instagram

I’ve never experienced this type of heartache. I can barely see the letters to type through the tears. Can I tell you who Rayshard “Ray” Brooks was? -He was kind. -He was loyal. -His smile would encapsulate his entire face. -His laugh was infectious. -Our clients loved him and would ask about him often. -He was one of the hardest working employees we ever had. There was nothing we asked him to do that he wouldn’t. -He was a fast learner. -He was the first one to arrive to work everyday and the last to leave, and he rode a bike no less. -He wanted to be the best he could for his family. -He was in Toledo to take care of his father. -He was funny. -He was dedicated. -He was always in good spirits. -He was proud of the work we were doing in the city. -He was proud to be apart of the ARK team. -We loved him and I know he knew that. -We always helped him when ever he needed us. -I’m so very sorry Ray that we couldn’t help you last night. -I’m so very sorry that we couldn’t protect you from that terrible fate. -I’m so very sorry we missed your call the other day. -I’m so very sorry we couldn’t do more. -I’m so very sorry we won’t get to build more awesome shit together. -I’m so very sorry we only had a short time with you. -The world was better with you in it. The ARK team, Kevin, or myself will never be the same without you! I’m so very sorry Ray!! 💔 #rayshardbrooks #shotintheback #killedwhilerunningaway #pleaseprayforhisfamily #pleaseprayformyteam #wearecrushed 😭

A post shared by ARK Restoration & Construction (@ark_restoration) on

More Details:

Officers were called to the restaurant after receiving a complaint about a man asleep in his vehicle, which forced other customers to go around his car to get their food at the window. Brooks, was given a field sobriety test, which he reportedly failed, according to the GBI.

After failing the test, the officers attempted to place the male subject into custody,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. “During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued. The officer deployed a Taser.”

According to police, Brooks managed to take the Taser away from the officer before being shot. He was taken to the hospital where he later died, Miles said.

Cellphone video captured by a Wendy's customer appears to show two officers struggling with Brooks in the parking lot. He appeared to be running away from them when he was fatally shot.

The shooting further inflamed tensions over police use of force and racial injustice that have rocked Atlanta and cities across the nation since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

About 19 hours after the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced during a brief news conference that Shields had decided to step aside as police chief. Shields will remain employed by the city in a role to be determined, and former assistant police chief, Rodney Bryant, will serve as interim chief while the city conducts a national search.

Bottoms said she had reviewed video footage of the incident and believes the officer who shot Brooks should be fired. The officer has not been identified.

“While there may be debate over whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” Bottoms said. “I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”

Bottoms and City Council have established a task force to review police use of force and make recommendations for reforms.

Bottoms also apologized to the Brooks family.

“To the family of Mr. Brooks, there are no words strong enough to express how sincerely sorry I am for your loss,” the mayor said. “I do hope that you will find some comfort in the swift actions we have taken today and the meaningful reforms that our city will implement on behalf of the countless men and women who have lost their lives across this country.”

Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which investigates police shootings, on Saturday afternoon pledged a thorough investigation. The GBI also released surveillance video of the incident.

Reynolds noted it was a little more than a month ago that the GBI took over the investigation into the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man whose family said was jogging when he was shot in a subdivision outside Brunswick. The GBI announced three arrests last month.

Reynolds called for patience then and did so again Saturday, urging the public not to rush to judgment.

“We realize there’s a tremendous amount of emotion and passion involved in these cases, and certainly in the way the environment is now is only enhanced,” Reynolds said. “I would just humbly and respectfully ask the public to wait a minute.”

MORE: Atlanta police chief steps down 

ExploreCOMPLETE COVERAGE/ATLANTA PROTESTS
Protesters gathered at University Avenue at the Atlanta Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man,  was shot and killed by Atlanta police Friday evening during a struggle at a Wendy's drive-thru line. (Photo: Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Protesters gathered at University Avenue at the Atlanta Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Atlanta police Friday evening during a struggle at a Wendy's drive-thru line. (Photo: Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

By nightfall, the Wendy’s was in flames and demonstrators had shut down Atlanta’s busy Downtown Connector.

The first 29 minutes don’t prepare you for the all-too-familiar tragedy that follows: a white police officer, a black male victim, lethal gunshots and questions about whether any of it was justified. It happened again in Atlanta Friday night, when Officer Garrett Rolfe fired three times at a fleeing Rayshard Brooks. Both men, 27 years old. The shooting would set off a stunning chain of events, culminating in the resignation early Saturday night by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. (Video edited by Ryon Horne, Christian Boone)

We are working to learn more. Please return for more updates. J.Scott Trubey, Vanessa McCray and Arielle Krass contributed to this article.