Protests were sparked in Atlanta this weekend over the killing of Rayshard Brooks. Brooks was being arrested after falling asleep in a Wendy's drive-thru and failing a field sobriety test. When officers asked him to place his hands behind his back Brooks resisted, eventually grabbing a taser from one of the officers and attempting to flee. In the process of fleeing, Brooks turned while running and fired the taser at one of the officers, who then drew his weapon and fired on Brooks, who later died from his injuries.
You can already tell from the story that this isn't the same as the murder of George Floyd, who was on the ground and killed by an officer that held his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd for nearly 9 minutes. However, this is being treated as a cut and dry issue by Republicans, Democrats, and even Libertarians.
My basic point with the article is that this is not as simple as those on all sides are making it.
I'd like to start by saying that we are saddened by any death. Police officers are not juries and executioners, and far too often they end up taking on that responsibility. I'd love to imagine a way that this could have turned out differently, so we'll go through those options for the remainder of the article.
Using a completely objective approach, we have to dissect the situation. What party, if any, is at fault in this scenario?
It's my opinion (open for counter arguments) that the police are not fully at fault. Up until the point that Mr. Brooks ran, the situation was completely respectful. The police were no doubt caught off guard when Brooks tried to flee, and made a split second decision that resulted in the loss of life.
I'd love to see a situation where police, when confronted with this situation, would aim lower. It seems like so many of these times we see an option of shooting someone in the leg. That however, is not what they are trained to do. Possibly when confronted with a less lethal weapon like a taser, something like aiming lower should become an option. Brooks had already been hit with a taser, and was not affected.
In addition to my best-case scenario, I'd like to see a change in the procedure for DUI. At the time Brooks was being arrested, there was no victim other than Wendy's and their drive-thru time. Why couldn't we address DUI's differently? Would people be better off if they were given a citation, and then asked to call a family member or friend to pick them up? It seems like if human life is the concern, the danger of a drunk driver would be removed by this solution. I realize that the punishment is to deter future criminals, but the fact of the matter is that victimless crimes should not be the duty of the government. Anyone who has texted or watched videos while driving is just as guilty as Brooks in my opinion- although I'm sure many who don't want jail time for texting would disagree.
Still, I cannot place full fault on the police for this. Brooks fired a weapon at a police officer. Had that taser struck the officer in the head, who knows what the outcome might have been. Surely there was potential for immediate harm to the officer. Who knows what Brooks might have done with the officers gun after rendering him immobile.
Yes, the ultimate fault lies with Mr. Brooks. It lies with Brooks because it was in fact his decisions that led him to this scenario. Now, I'm not saying "he deserved it," or "don't break the law and you won't get shot." Breonna Taylor would surely disagree with that standpoint.
But, it is in fact dangerous to drink and drive. It is in fact against the law. It also was not warranted to resist the arrest. It was also, and most importantly, not warranted to turn and fire a taser at a police officer.
We have to stay objective in these situations. This is not George Floyd, this is not Breonna Taylor. Do I think there are options to stop deadly use of force against people? Yes. Aiming for the legs, allowing people to call a friend for a ride, or letting the suspect go are all options. Let's not forget that there were people on the other side of Brooks, and theres no way to know for sure where those bullets were going to land a mile down the road.... But that does not mean that this officer is guilty of murder.
As I said, I'm always open to other opinions. If you think there's something I'm missing, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org