This will not sit well with many people but I hope you will hear me out. This is such a pivotal point in time where we have the opportunity to really bring about some meaningful change in the interaction between race, the police and the use of lethal force.
I look at the latest horrible shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia. People on both sides are seizing upon his death in a way that will result in further polarization and distrust. Bottom line is this: the police officer was wrong to shoot Mr. Brooks in the back, twice, but Rayshard Brooks was not an innocent man who had done nothing wrong. Holding him up as such will do nothing to help further the calls and the need for reform. It only serves as a distraction.
The death of Rayshard Brooks is the result of a perfect storm in a moment of time where people are questioning who we are as a nation.
Rayshard Brooks should not have died that night. The police officer should not have shot him in the back. Both men were wrong. Mr. Brooks was under the influence and he had been interacting with the officers peacefully until they decided to arrest him and he resisted.
If you watch the entire video you see that several officers attempted to pin him down and handcuff him and in that moment, things went left.
When I see Rayshard Brooks initially talking with the officers, I see a Black man who has definitely had “The Talk”. He was respectful and forthcoming and cooperative, until they attempted to arrest him. I have no idea what went through his mind in that moment. However, I can think of a reason why he reacted the way that he did
We are living in a post George Floyd era. Imagjne that you are a black man who has been pulled over by the police. You find yourself surrounded by several officers who have arrived on the scene. You are cooperative but you are also inebriated. And this is post George Floyd. You resist and several officers attempt to subdue you. This is post George Floyd.
I watched the video of the officers wrestling with him. I immediately thought to myself, please don’t put your knee on his neck. In that moment, I also wondered if Rayshard Brooks thought the same thing. Did he say to himself, “is this how I am going to die?”; just like George Floyd did. And then the situation escalated. He resisted, he grabbed the taser. He ran, turned back, fired the taser and continued to run away only to be shot, twice in the back.
Rayshard Brooks is dead. Don’t make him a matyr. He was impaired. He resisted, be ran and he fired a taser at them while running away. Conversely, don’t vilify him as some thug or criminal to try to justify the use of lethal force by the officer.
See it for what it. A perfect storm of events that resulted in tragedy because of systemic racism, colorism and the misuse of lethal force.