The family of Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old Black man who was killed by an Atlanta police officer, in a Wendy’s drive through, became extremely emotional during a press conference on Monday (June 15), expressing shock and grief that one the many incidents of Black men being killed by law enforcement has landed at their front door.
In a press conference on Monday, June 15, Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, along with several members of the Brooks family including his 13-year old stepson, Mekhai, daughters Memory, Dream and Blessing, whose eighth birthday was on the day after her father was killed, spoke to the press. Miller provided her reactions to the shooting and insight to the man she refers to as her “best friend.”
“There is no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what has been done. I can tell my daughter oh he’s coming to take you skating or swimming lessons. It’s just going to be a long time before I heal and this family heals.
“I just want to thank everybody for all the protests, love and support you guys have done. Words can’t explain how grateful I am for everything. Even though I can’t bring my husband back, I know he’s down smiling because his name will forever be remembered,” said Miller. She also asked that those protesting for justice in her husband’s name continue to do so peacefully.
“We want to keep his name positive and great,” she said.
A number of other family members spoke at the press conference trying to explain the hurt, anger, trauma and frustration they all feel, demanding for justice. Family members soon became so overcome with grief that they had to be ushered from the room.
“No matter what the different points of view are about his death, we must all agree to one fact --- he was killed by the Atlanta Police Department. The fact that someone’s cousin, brother, uncle, nephew, father, companion and friend is no longer in this world. The trust that we had with the police force is broken, and the only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and drastic change with the police department,” said his cousin, Tiara Brooks, who ended by asking how many more protests will it take to ensure an end to excessive use of force by police.
The family’s attorney, L. Chris Stewart tried to give some context into why the family and those who continue to protest are demanding a systematic change to the laws and policies that allow police abuse and brutality. Stewart revealed that a witness has come forward who was at the Wendy’s that night and offered his vehicle which was hit with a stray bullet from the officer’s weapon while the witness and his children sat in the car.
“A couple of feet up and we would have had another loss of life,” said Stewart who also points out there is a mental change that is missing in policing today. “Try to justify the actions of shooting at Mr. Brooks as he’s running away in a crowded Wendy’s parking lot when you can easily catch him later. For what started off as a non confrontational situation. It can’t be justified.”
It was also revealed that Tyler Perry has reached out to the family and promised to take care of all funeral costs, a simple yet grand gesture that they remain grateful for during their time of healing.
Watch the press conference below:
What Happened To Rayshard Brooks?
Police were called to the Wendy’s on University Avenue in Atlanta on Friday evening after Brooks’ was seen asleep in his car and blocking traffic in the drive-thru line. Police body cam video shows that Brooks initially had a conversation with the two responding officers, going through a sobriety test which he seemingly fails. Brooks can later be seen resisting arrest, grabbing an officer’s Taser and running away, according to Atlanta station WSBTV.
What happened next is what has people reeling. In surveillance video, Brooks is seen pointing the Taser at police who responded with several shots fired. As a result, the medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide with the report concluding that Brooks died as a result of “two gunshot to the back that created organ injuries and blood loss.”
Garrett Rolfe, the officer who fired the fatal shot killing Brooks, has since been fired. It is currently unclear if charges will be filed against him. Devin Brosnan, the other officer at the scene, has been placed on administrative duty.
But this provides little comfort to Miller and the rest of the family who remain devastated and visibility shaken at today's press conference, which actually ended after Decatur Redd and Gymaco Brooks, two of Rayshard Brooks’ male cousins, broke down in tears, with Redd crying out, “he wasn’t supposed to die.”
Screen grab from CBSN.