Lawyer for Brooks’ family: ‘People sick of seeing black men murdered’

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was the father of three daughters and also had a stepson, an attorney for his family said. (Family photo)
Rayshard Brooks, 27, was the father of three daughters and also had a stepson, an attorney for his family said. (Family photo)

As attorneys huddled with heartbroken family members Saturday afternoon, a birthday party was under way for one of Rayshard Brooks’ three daughters.

She was in her best dress, waiting on her father to take her skating to celebrate her 8th year. She was oblivious to the adults’ grim conversation.

"What is it going to take? How many more examples are we going to take?” said attorney Chris Stewart, hired by Brooks’ family.

The 27-year-old Atlanta man was shot in the back and killed late Friday at a downtown Wendy’s restaurant by an Atlanta police officer. 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.

The identity of the officer who fired the lethal bullets has not yet been confirmed by Atlanta police. Mayor Keisha Lane Bottoms said Saturday she believes he should be fired.

That decision will not be be made by APD Chief Erika Shields, who submitted her resignation, a stunning turn of events that has put the city back on edge.

Protesters clashed with police as the skies darkened. At one point they managed to block the Downtown Connector.

"People are sick of seeing black men murdered,” said  Stewart, who has been involved in many of the high-profile police shootings of the last five years.

He said he was heartbroken seeing an all-too familiar narrative play out again.

“We’re just tired,” Stewart said at a press conference Saturday night. “If you don't understand that ... then you may be the problem."

The attorneys spent Saturday talking to witnesses. Before rendering aid to Brooks, Stewart said the officers put on plastic gloves and collected shell casings. They waited two minutes and 16 seconds before checking Brooks’ pulse, Stewart said.

Witnesses expressed surprise at how events unfolded. At first, the officers appeared to be having a calm conversation with Brooks.

“Then all of the sudden one of the officers grabbed him and told him he was under arrest,” Stewart said. “He wasn't blocking the line. Why was he even under arrest?”

“You know how this could be avoided?” he continued. “Talk to him. Why is that so hard for police officers? A conversation."

Brooks was never given a field sobriety test, said Stewart, contradicting the GBI, which said a test was administered and Brooks failed it. The GBI, which is investigating the shooting, said Brooks resisted arrest and fought with the officers.

But the officers’ safety, Stewart maintains, was never at risk.

"In Georgia, a Taser is not a deadly weapon,” he said. “That's the law.”

The family met Saturday with Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. The veteran prosecutor, who faces a runoff in two months against his former chief deputy, Fani Willis, said his office “has already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident.”

Stewart sounded almost defeated as he talked to reporters.

"Even I'm starting to lose hope,” he said. “And that's hard."

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