D/S/Cs, de-escalation, deadly force, Devin Brosnan, drunk drivers, DUI, Garrett Rolfe, holy social justice martyr, James Woods, Keisha Bottoms, less-lethal, Rayshard Brooks, Taser, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton
Before I begin an analysis of the Rayshard Brooks arrest attempt and shooting, I’ll make two points: (1) no one has all the facts necessary to render a just verdict; (2) it appears to be a justified shooting.
The Incident (taken largely from New York Magazine): Friday, 06-20-20. At 2242, Atlanta PD officers Garret Rolfe—a 7-year APD veteran–and Devin Brosnan arrived at a Wendy’s, where Rayshard Brooks, 27, was passed out in his vehicle, blocking the drive up lane. They wake him up and move him into the parking lot, where they administer field sobriety exercises. Brooks admits he has been drinking, but claims he is not too drunk to drive. His BAC is .108, far above the legal limit. Brooks takes a field breathalyzer, which indicates he is over the limit.
2323: Rolfe arrests Brooks for DUI and begins to handcuff him. To this point, the encounter was entirely unremarkable. The officers were entirely professional and Brooks was not aggressive. At first, Brooks appears to submit to handcuffing, but he suddenly begins not only to resist the officers, but to actively attack them, repeatedly punching them and wrestling them as they all fall to the ground, which is where fights usually end up.
Brooks is substantially bigger and heavier than both officers, and they are in continual danger of being overcome. As they struggle with Brooks, Rolfe repeatedly tells Brooks to stop fighting and warns him they will use Tasers. Brosnan unholsters his Taser, and Brooks immediately grabs it and quickly wrests it from Brosnan, who he throws to the ground.
Brooks breaks free and begins to run. Rolfe apparently fires his Taser, but it either did not get solid contact, or had no effect on Brooks. Rolfe runs after Brooks, and is only about 8-10 feet behind him, his Taser extended toward him as he runs. Throughout the rest of the encounter, Rolfe and Brooks are easily within effective Taser range.
Within seconds, Brooks, who continues to run, turns and fully extends Brosnan’s stolen Taser at Rolfe and apparently fires it at Rolfe, who is apparently not hit or affected. This is not a quick, over-the-shoulder flick of the weapon, but a clear, purposeful attempt to shoot Rolfe with the Taser. Rolfe draws his handgun and fires three shots. Two strike Brooks, who stumbles and falls. An autopsy reports Brooks was struck in the back, but there are no details as to position, angle, etc. From the moment Brooks turned and fired at Rolfe, and his falling to the pavement, a bit less than 2 seconds elapsed.
Protests began almost immediately, and on Saturday, 06-13-20, at app. 2130 the Wendy’s was set on fire. “Protestors” prevented the fire department from putting out the fire. Prior to the fire, they blocked major highways, but were dispersed and some 40 were arrested.
Videos of the incident are available at the NY Magazine link, and at this Powerline link. A clear police dashcam clip of the officer’s struggle to secure Brooks is available at this Fox5atlanta report. It clearly shows they are not in any way abusing Brooks, and are acting reasonably. Even as he is overpowering them, they do not use excessive force and try to talk him into submitting. This You Tube video is from a surveillance camera. It clearly shows the brief foot pursuit and the less than 2-second span when Brooks turns to fire at Rolfe, Rolfe returns fire, and Brooks falls.
Brooks was Black; the two officers were white. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms immediately all but proclaimed Rolfe a murderer and fired him. Brosnan was placed on administrative leave. Atlanta officers have been working 12 hours shifts with no time off for weeks. As many as 19 have resigned since Rolfe was fired. As one might expect, Rolfe has been tried and convicted in the court of social justice opinion. An actual criminal trial will be a mere formality. Verdict first, trial later, sentence predetermined.
As this is written, little is known about Brooks, but he has already become a holy social justice martyr and is being depicted as a saint. Little is also known about the officers, though if they had any real history of misbehavior, that certainly would have been leaked/released already.
The DUI: Democrats/Socialsts/Communists—which always includes the media—have persisted in characterizing Brooks as merely “sleeping.” Some have said he was behaving responsibly by pulling off the road to “sleep,” and the officers were somehow behaving badly when they investigated him. Many, including the Brooks family attorney, L. Chris Stewart, have argued the officers should have let Brooks walk home, should have given him a ride, should have let him move his car out of the drive-through lane and sleep it off, anything but arresting him.
In reality, calls of drunks asleep in drive-through lanes, quick shop parking lots, or a variety of other places are common. In this case, the officers took a more than usual amount of time to give Brooks every chance to demonstrate he was not a drunk driver. He failed. Every video indicates they treated him professionally, even kindly. They did their jobs and there was not a hint of abuse or racism.
No police officer would allow a drunk driver to walk away, to drive an inch further, to park and sleep it off, or anything like that. Drunks will tell any lie to get out of being arrested. Drunk drivers kill 10,000 Americans every year, and in 2010, their destruction cost $44 billion dollars. Drunks cannot be trusted. Even if they are sincere, they’ll fall asleep, wake up, forget everything that has happened, and drive off. If they were in any way injured while walking, if they ran into another vehicle or a pedestrian, the officers would have been toast, to say nothing of having to live with their failure the rest of their lives. All of these things have happened to naïve and/or gullible police officers. Officers are taught to always safeguard evidence, and in a DUI, the driver’s blood is primary evidence. Drunks often try to escape to give them time to sober up and deny the police that evidence. Rolfe and Brosnan did their duty the way it should and must be done. There is no faulting anything they did though this phase of the incident, the longest phase.
We do not know if Brooks had a record of prior DUIs. If so, this arrest could have been a felony, which could have been motive for his resistance.
The Arrest Attempt: The officers also continued to treat Brooks professionally. I would fault them only for not specifically saying “you are under arrest,” but Brooks clearly knew he was under arrest. Any reasonable person would understand that. D/S/Cs have minimized Brooks’ actions, but he was engaging in multiple felonies, among them: 16-10-24, Obstructing An Officer, and 16-5-21, Aggravated Assault. He also violated 16-10-52, Escape. Brooks certainly committed other felonies, but these are the obvious offenses he committed within a span of seconds. Keep in mind, there would be two counts of Aggravated Assault for his attack on the two officers.
Brooks was not merely trying to escape, he was also beating the officers as hard as he could, even though they tried to talk him into submitting. He did not just wrestle with them, he repeatedly punched them. When Brosnan drew his Taser, Brooks seized it, threw Brosnan to the ground, and wrested it from him. D/S/Cs argue he did not immediately use it against the officers, but he was still struggling with them and trying to break free. He didn’t have the opportunity at that moment because he was grasping it by the “barrel” (this model Taser has a handgun shape) and could not trigger it.
The Escape And Taser: D/S/Cs argue the Taser is not a deadly weapon. They are either misinformed or purposely lying. Tasers are classified not as non-lethal, but less-lethal. People have indeed died from the application of Tasers. According to PBS, 10,000 have died since 2000. People have been killed by pepper spray. Every weapon an officer carries other than their handgun, including fists and feet is less-lethal, not non-lethal.
Rolfe tried to use his Taser on Brooks, but the barbs either did not embed, or were ineffective. Both outcomes are common. The Tasers involved appear to be of a type with two charges, or two “shots.”
Remember, as Brooks is running, the officers know he has committed at least one dangerous misdemeanor and multiple felonies. Even so, D/S/Cs argue the officers should have merely let him run away and arrest him at home later. They had an absolute obligation to “de-escalate” the situation no matter what, and because they did not, they are murderers.
Here we have a drunken Brooks, who has brutally assaulted two police officers, and is carrying a stolen less-lethal weapon. The officers had no choice but to pursue and detain him. Why shouldn’t they just let him run away? Drunk, agitated, he could easily injure or kill himself. He might commit suicide. He might injure others or jack a car in an attempt to escape. And why would officers want to let a dangerous felon get home or some other place where he would have every advantage, including access to firearms, even hostages? All of these things, and more, have happened when dangerous felons have escaped from the police.
And Brooks did not merely try to flee. He purposely turned, pointed the Taser at Rolfe, and fired it. Again, the Taser was ineffective, but no police officer can allow himself to be overpowered by a felon. Incapacitated, he is at their mercy and could easily be killed, to say nothing of his responsibility and duty to arrest such people.
We must also consider that Rolfe may not have known it was a Taser pointed at him. Remember that weapon is shaped like a gun. He could reasonably have believed Brooks had a handgun, his brain screaming not “Taser” but “gun!” They apparently had not searched him, which is commonly done after handcuffing. Rolfe could easily and reasonably have believed he was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. Remember, he was not pursuing a 70 year-old librarian out for a late night stroll. He was pursuing a dangerous felon that had, seconds before, viciously beat him and his partner, overpowered both, and was now pointing and firing—at the least–a less-lethal, potentially lethal, weapon at him.
Rolfe’s response was faster and more accurate than average. In less than two seconds, he was able to process the threat, draw and mostly accurately fire three shots, striking Brooks with two. But he shot Brooks in the back! We know only that tidbit of information. From the videos available, it appears that by the time Rolfe was able to draw and fire, Brooks was already beginning to turn around. When he drew, Brooks was firing at him. We’re dealing in fractions of a second. I suspect an accurate analysis of the path of the bullets will reveal just this. In these situations, everything happens fast.
Officers are not required, practically or legally, to wait until someone trying to harm them is squarely facing them before defending themselves. It’s not an old west gunfight, and the only rules are the winner walks—or runs—away. And once again, they were in hot pursuit of a dangerous felon. They had no choice but to pursue and detain him.
Outrageous Conduct: The only truly outrageous conduct involved is that the Mayor–she is Black–who declared the officers, particularly Rolfe, guilty and fired Rolfe without a hint of due process. She also immediately demanded the resignation of the police chief. The proper process is to place all officers involved on administrative leave, make no pronouncement at all about guilt or innocence, and wait until a complete and professional investigation is done. In this case the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation, which is also appropriate. The Mayor, and so many others, have so prejudiced Rolfe, it may be impossible for him to get a fair trial in Atlanta, or virtually anywhere else. And should the investigation, by some miracle, find him justified, Wendy’s will be only the first building to burn.
Consequences: While running errands on 06-15-20, I chanced on a Fox radio program, where one guest was heard to say (I’m paraphrasing) There has to be a way for police to arrest people without escalating into shooting. Another said (again, paraphrasing) I can’t understand why this happens in cities where persons of color like mayors and governors have power. I just can’t understand that. There is a way for arrests to be done without shooting: submit to the lawful authority of the police and argue in court. Millions of arrests are made every year without violence or harm. The outcome depends on the person being arrested. It is indeed interesting that these kinds of situations primarily happen in D/S/C ruled cities and states where “people of color” have ultimate power. Perhaps their policies, in effect for a half century and longer, have something to do with it?
The resignation of at least 19 officers thus far is a manifestation of the Ferguson Effect. Any Atlanta officer, particularly a white officer, arresting a Black person has to be out of their mind. And if what happened to Rolfe wasn’t sufficient evidence of the insane state of things in Atlanta, consider this from the Mayor:
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a series of administrative orders Monday targeting police use of force policies following the shooting death of a black man last week, triggering a new wave of protests and riots in the city.
Speaking to reporters, Bottoms said the new rules will require officers to implement de-escalation measures before using physical force and that all incidents of deadly force must be reported to the city’s citizen review board.
In the Brooks case, “de-escalation” had no place. There was nothing to de-escalate. When Brooks decided to assault the officers, they tried to de-escalate, desperately trying to talk him into behaving lawfully. Brooks continued to escalate the violence. From that point, the only way they could have “de-escalated” was to let him escape, and we’ve already discussed the dangers of that foolish and incompetent course of non-action.
In Atlanta, and around the nation, the nation’s police are learning hard lessons. Black people, particularly Black males, are now all but immune from arrest. Violent insurrection is not only allowed, but profitable. And any police officer actually doing his or her job is far more likely to end up unemployed, impoverished, or in jail than criminals.
This will not end well, particularly in D/S/C ruled snake pits like Atlanta, NYC, Baltimore, Detroit, Portland and Seattle, but across the nation.