Atlanta to pay $1M settlement to family of Rayshard Brooks

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta City Council on Monday voted to approve a $1 million settlement payment for the family of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot and killed by a police officer.

Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was shot following a confrontation with two white police officers in June 2020. The shooting came just weeks after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. It sparked a new wave of demonstrations in Atlanta against police brutality and racial injustice.

A special prosecutor appointed to consider the case announced in August that the use of deadly force was “objectively reasonable.” Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said he would not pursue charges against Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks, and Officer Devin Brosnan.

Attorneys for the Brooks’ family say they remain disappointed that no charges were brought against the officers, but they said Monday that Brooks’ family is pleased to have reached a settlement with the city. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in September 2021 by Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, and his estate.

The City Council voted 15-0 Monday to approve the settlement.

“This grieving family has been through so much during this process. Although the children of Mr. Brooks have lost their father, settling the case will undoubtedly assist them with future plans as they come of age,” the family’s lawyers said in a statement.

They also said they “continue to hold out hope that the Dept. of Justice will intervene in this matter.”

Police responded on June 12, 2020, to complaints of a man sleeping in a car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s restaurant. Police body camera video shows the two officers having a calm conversation with Brooks for about 40 minutes.

Then, when the officers told Brooks he’d had too much to drink to be driving and tried to arrest him, Brooks resisted in a struggle caught on dash camera video. Brooks grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and fled, firing it at Rolfe as he ran. Rolfe fired his gun, and an autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.

Then-Police Chief Erika Shields resigned less than 24 hours after the shooting, and protesters set fire to the Wendy’s, which was later demolished.

Rolfe was fired the day after Brooks died, but his dismissal was reversed in May 2021 by the Atlanta Civil Service Board. The board found that the city failed to follow its own procedures for disciplinary actions.

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