The post-mortem report of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s (FCME) office ruled on June 14, Sunday, that the shooting of Rayshard Brooks on June 12 was a “homicide”. Brooks was killed after a police officer fired at him outside a Wendy’s restaurant outlet in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. In a statement, the FCME investigator stated that Brooks’ death was caused due to gunshot wounds in his back, and characterized the death as a homicide.
Two police officers had approached Brooks after a Wendy’s employee complained about the 27-year-old falling asleep in his car at the drive-through. Security cameras and body cams showed that a scuffle broke out as Brooks resisted attempts to handcuff him. The cameras also showed one of the officers firing at Brooks after he tried to run away after grabbing a taser from one of the officers.
The killing of Brooks has intensified the anti-police protests in Atlanta, which were already taking place as part of a nationwide wave of protests following the killing of George Floyd. On Saturday, outraged protesters gathered near the Wendy’s outlet where Brooks was shot. Some of them attacked the outlet and burnt it down.
Protests have also prompted the expulsion of the police officer, Garrett Rolfe, as well as the resignation of Atlanta police chief Erika Shields.
While major politicians, including the Atlanta mayor and State legislators, condemned the shooting, Georgia has a long history of police violence. According to ABC News, Brooks’ murder was the 48th police shooting incident in the State this year, 15 of which ended in fatalities.
In the meanwhile, protests against police violence triggered by the murder of George Floyd have continued across the country even after over three weeks. Police reforms, defunding and even dismantling of the police have become issues of key national debates.
On Friday, the Minneapolis city council passed a unanimous resolution to replace the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). The binding resolution seeks to replace the MPD with a new model of a public safety program over the next year by engaging with “with every willing community member in Minneapolis.” The council will also set up a Future of Community Safety Work Group to supervise the transition to the new model.
The council’s resolution sets a model for major cities in the US that are considering, or are in the process of implementing police reforms. On Friday, the San Francisco mayor also unveiled plans to reform the police. These include removing police jurisdiction in responding to non-criminal cases, such as reports on homeless people and school disciplining matters.
On Sunday, three of the largest police unions in the State of California, from the cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles, also tabled a set of proposals to reform the police. However, several civil rights activists in the US remain skeptical of many of the proposed defunding and reform plans that fail do get to the root of the problem. Many in the movement have also demanded serious consideration to the actual dismantling of police departments, and are closely following the developments in Minneapolis.