US officer charged with murder after shooting black man in the back

US officer charged with murder after shooting black man in the back
Police Shooting Atlanta

The Atlanta officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back after the fleeing black man pointed a stun gun in his direction will be charged with murder and 10 other charges, a prosecutor said.

Garrett Rolfe kicked Mr Brooks while he lay on the ground and the officer with him, Devin Brosnan, stood on Brooks’s shoulder as he struggled for life after a confrontation on Friday night, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said at a news conference.

Rolfe had already been fired after he shot Brooks, 27, on Friday night.

Brosnan, who will be charged with aggravated assault and other crimes, had been placed on administrative leave.

Mr Brooks’s widow, Tomika Miller, attended the news conference along with her lawyers, Justin Miller and L Chris Stewart.

Tomika Miller, the wife of Rayshard Brooks, attended the news conference (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

The news came as Republicans on Capitol Hill unveiled a package of police reform measures and the movement to get rid of Confederate movements and other racially offensive symbols reached America’s breakfast table, with the maker of Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix dropping the 131-year-old brand.

The shooting sparked new demonstrations in Georgia’s capital against police brutality, after occasionally turbulent protests in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis had largely simmered down.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned less than 24 hours after Mr Brooks died.

Police were called to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane. An officer found Mr Brooks asleep behind the wheel of the car and called for another officer to do sobriety testing.

This screen grab taken from body camera video provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Rayshard Brooks speaking with Officer Garrett Rolfe in the car park (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

Police body camera video shows Mr Brooks and officers having a relatively calm and respectful conversation for more than 40 minutes before things rapidly turned violent.

Mr Brooks wrestled with officers, snatched one of their stun guns and turned and pointed it at one of them as he ran through the car park

A post-mortem found that Mr Brooks was shot twice in the back.

Ahead of the district attorney’s announcement, Rolfe’s lawyers issued a statement saying the officer feared for his safety and that of others around him and was justified in shooting Mr Brooks.

Rolfe opened fire after hearing a sound “like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him”.

“Mr Brooks violently attacked two officers and disarmed one of them. When Mr Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, any officer would have reasonably believed that he intended to disarm, disable, or seriously injure him,” the lawyers said.

An attorney for the Brooks family said previously that Rolfe should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder”.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans in Washington announced their most ambitious police-reform package in years, including an enhanced use-of-force database, restrictions on chokeholds and new commissions to study law enforcement and race.

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