Rayshard Brooks shooting

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Van Zandt, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick


    Rayshard Brooks police shooting declared homicide

    The body and dashboard camera footage is widely available if you want to watch it.

    I have watched the footage many times and I am really struggling to understand how this was ruled a homicide.

    Brooks resisted arrest, disarmed one of the officers of his Taser device, fired upon the officer, and continued to flee.

    From my perspective it looked like the officers followed the accepted continuum of force (they tried several times to incapacitate Brooks with their Tasers) on a suspect who had violently resisted arrest and was attempting to flee.

    It looked like a justified shooting.

    I can't help but feel like the reaction is excessive (any fatal shooting is tragic, obviously) and it has escalated in part because of recent events.

    Am I wrong here?
  2. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    What was it exactly that you think justified escalating to lethal force? Which action by Brooks tipped that situation to the officers having no choice but to kill him?
  3. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    He violently resisted arrest, obtained a Taser and willingly used it against the officers. Had he incapacitated one of them, he could have taken a sidearm.

    I think the build up could have been handled better but I can also understand why the officers decided to use lethal force.

    Like I said, I'm open to alternative interpretations of events.
  4. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I don't see how he posed a lethal threat to the officers or anyone else.

    "Had he" and "could have" should not wash, because that opens the flood gates for officers making up any old "what if" scenario in order to justify killing someone.

    He was not known to be a violent criminal to them, just a drunk guy resisting arrest like thousands of others every night. He fired a non-lethal weapon while fleeing. If he managed to incapacitate one of them and turned round to approach the incapacitated officer, that is when his partner could issue a warning before shooting him. But that didn't happen, and it is an irrelevant hypothetical.

    I can't see any evidence of Brooks escalating his actions to lethal force, so I don't understand why the officers felt justified in applying lethal force themselves.

    At what point do you see those officers' lives in imminent danger?
    ned likes this.
  5. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    I think it was the part where he told the police that his sister lived in the neighborhood and he could go there to spend the night. That warranted an execution.

    Sorry, couldn’t help being a bit snarky.

    It is just astounding to me that right in the middle of the George Floyd protests that have been highlighting and underlining the systemic unjustifiable shooting of black people by the police, that this happens. It just boggles the mind. Was that officer completely oblivious to what has been going on for the last few weeks? Was he utterly incapable of a little bit of reflection before pulling the trigger?

    I thing this incident, in the middle of this period of social unrest, speaks volumes to the truth in the claim that excessive force towards black people is inherent in the culture of law enforcement.

    The police are supposed to be public servants. They are not supposed to be judge and executioner.
    ned likes this.
  6. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    The body and dashboard cameras eliminated much of the scope for arbitrary executions. The "what if" thought process is important here because police officers need to think one step ahead and the potential implications if they do not act.

    I think an important point here is that he had already violently resisted arrest against two police officers, disarming one of them in the process and demonstrated a willingness to use the officer's weapon against him. He was physically fit & capable despite being drunk. He could have turned and been upon the incapacitated officer in an instant. It's amazing how quickly a person can change direction and close the distance (and Brooks could clearly shift at some speed). I may be mistaken here, but it also looked like Brooks was heading toward the line of cars so there was potential for more victims to be involved.

    Given how the encounter had gone up to that point, I'm not surprised at all the officer opened fire. They don't have to wait until a suspect employs lethal force. If they genuinely believe a situation will escalate to the point where lethal force is the only option remaining, they are authorised to take it. Obviously in this case it was ruled a bad call, hence the firing of the officer involved.
  7. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I think you're underestimating the capacity for forethought given the speed and intensity of the physical altercation. I don't think the officers had the luxury of thinking about other options at the time of the arrest that everybody is insisting they should have had in hindsight.

    I agree on all points about the systemic prejudice faced by the black community at the hands of the police.

    However, the dynamics of the arrest in the George Floyd incident and the Rayshard Brooks incident are completely different.
  8. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Drunk people fight the police every day. The only difference between this and any other drunk resisting arrest is the actions of the police, not the actions of the man killed, as far as I can see.

    What danger did Brooks pose to the public had he got away? None, as far as I can see.

    The officers failed to detain a civilian. A taser failed to incapacitate him. An officer failed to retain his weapon. I think they killed him out of embarrassment, not tactical consideration.
  9. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Not knowing how the American system works, what other conclusions could the ME have given?

    Is it up to them whether it's justifiable or not?

    There's a huge amount of context missing here for UK readers.
  10. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Everyday drunks don't throw two police officers around like rag dolls, disarm an officer of his Taser, punch the officer in the face, run off at speed and then turn around to discharge said Taser at the officer.

    If Brooks had successfully discharged the Taser, the officer's body would have locked up and thus rendered him incapacitated, at which point he could have sustained serious injury or death. If an officer believes a suspect's action will result in serious harm or death, they are entitled to use lethal force.

    Brooks was armed with a Taser. He could have used it on a member of the public. I'm not sure how you fail to see this point.

    Your claim that they shot him out of embarrassment is illogical and sounds like it's loaded with anti-police sentiment.
    aikiMac likes this.
  11. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    So this was something an American LEO clarified for me.

    Homicide ≠ murder, as is a common misconception.

    It has not been ruled lawful or unlawful yet.

    "Homicide" just means one person killed another.
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  12. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio


    Homicide in itself does not indicate any wrongdoing.

    [EDIT: Van Zandt beat me to it]
    Dead_pool likes this.
  13. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Yeah, to clarify my earlier post: I'm struggling to understand how it was not ruled a justifiable homicide. I'll be surprised if murder charges are levelled against the officer who shot Brooks.
  14. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    These are failings of the officers' training and equipment. I don't see how you can hold a civilian accountable for that. Big guys resisting arrest is going to happen. Is that a good enough reason to kill a citizen?

    How would he have sustained serious injury or death? That is not a facetious question, but you have to be specific. Is the taser itself a danger to life?

    Why would he have used it on a member of the public? How many shots were in that taser?

    Not at all. I can't see the tactical necessity to employ lethal force. It makes a lot more sense to me that they were embarrassed at doing such a terrible job with this guy and losing department property that they shot him because their authority had been utterly undermined. My suspicion is that it was their egos, rather than their tactical decision making, that lead to them shooting brooks.

    I don't hold anti-police sentiment, but I do hold them to a very high standard of professionalism.
    ned likes this.
  15. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    It was the manner in which he resisted arrest. The crux here is that he obtained a Taser and discharged it against the pursuing officer (Rolfe). Had Brooks incapacitated Rolfe, he could have taken Rolfe's firearm and done much more harm to the officer and others.

    Yes, I think Brooks's decision to turn and use the Taser against the officer is justification to use lethal force. I'm open to the possibility that I may be wrong (hence this thread).

    The Atlanta PD policy manual states that an officer can use deadly force when "He or she reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury and when he or she reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or others." Brooks's actions passed that threshold, in my opinion.

    People also seem to be forgetting the 30 minutes that the officers spent showing a great deal of calm and patience with Brooks. It was only when he turned violent that they responded with force.

    He could have incapacitated Rolfe and taken his sidearm.

    We are also operating on the assumption that Rolfe knew 100% it was the Taser that Brooks was holding when he turned and fired. Adrenaline can distort a person's perception of reality. For all we know, Rolfe may have thought Brooks had pulled out a concealed firearm and was about to open fire.

    Who knows why he would have used it on the public. Why did he fight the officers and try to incapacitate them with their own weapon? Brooks clearly wasn't thinking or acting rationally. The officers had no idea what he was capable of.

    I think you're holding them to an unreasonable standard under the circumstances. It's easy to judge from the comfort of our homes when we're able to watch the incident unfold on CCTV a dozen times if we want to. The officers didn't have that luxury.
  16. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Sorry, I'm not sure I'm reading your other post properly.

    Can the ME rule it a justifiable homicide?

    From your previous post it looked like you were saying the ME rules it homicide or not, and then it would go somewhere else/court/DA/CPS? to be reviewed as justifiable or not?
  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Yes, the ME rules it as a homicide (which is a formal way of stating the obvious) and it's up to the DA to decide if it's justifiable or murder.

    The DA involved with the case is looking at three potential charges (aggravated assault, murder, felony murder), and we can probably expect a decision by Wednesday.

    So my surprise here is that there's the possibility of a murder charge because it looked like a clear cut justifiable use of lethal force.
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  18. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Ok, that makes sense.

    I imagine in the current environment, it's important that due diligence is followed, and is shown to be followed, as it should be with any use of lethal force scenerio really.

    The US is in a really bad situation at the moment, the police has lost the trust of a wide proportion of the population, which in some cases is more of a systemic issue, which the lockdown has intensified.

    I can see this getting worse if trump is elected again. And depending on what Biden does, could get worse anyway without wide spread change.

    Good job I don't live in a highly polarised society, suffering from an ineffective covid policy, and about to fall off a clip economically.

    (Checks the BBC news, oh god......)
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  19. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Just an extra note on that - the ME just rules on the cause of death, in this case homicide (the person was killed by another person). As Van Zandt said, homicide does not equal murder, it is only a cause of death, not a criminal charge.
    Dead_pool likes this.
  20. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Just to be clear, I'm not saying that this killing was unlawful. Apparently in police circles this type of incident is known as "lawful but awful": Tasers: Are These Police Tools Effective and Are They Dangerous?

    What I am saying is that I saw no need to kill Brooks. It looks like a failure of training to me.

    Tasers fail a lot. How much training do police have on what to do when a taser fails?

    For me, this goes in Brooks' favour. He was not on a murderous rampage, he just didn't want to be arrested. He was compliant up until that point.

    Again, "could have" is not good enough for me. It must be "I had reason to believe", otherwise it gives legal immunity for police to summarily execute civilians at will. There is no way Brooks could have turned and got to an incapacitated officers' weapon before his partner had a chance to shoot him. Don't forget that Brooks was shot in the back while fleeing. "If he had hit an officer with the taser" and "he might have turned around and tried to take his gun" are not god enough grounds to employ lethal force, IMHO.

    AFAIK, they had already searched him for weapons. If an officer can't distinguish a bright yellow taser from a firearm, then that again is a failure of training. It also opens the flood gates for police to have no accountability for shooting people because they were holding a phone, or reaching for their wallet to show ID.

    That really seems like reaching to me. What possible reason is there to believe that Brooks would suddenly start wanting to harm members of the public? Resisting arrest is not irrational, and Brooks resisted at the same level of force that the police used on him. Resisting arrest is stupid, but I don't see how you can call it irrational. Who wants to be arrested?

    They had his details and his vehicle. They had other options when he got away from them, but they couldn't accept an outcome where they failed to detain someone, so they shot him. They were let down by their training, and a man is dead because of it. That is how I see it, in my entirely unqualified opinion.

    I'm not saying that these officers should be hung out to dry, but this incident is a good example of significant gaps in police procedure and training.
    hewho and Anth like this.

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