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Family member of Rayshard Brooks: We are tired
02:33 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Rayshard Brooks, shot while running from police, didn’t have to die, his family says.

The mayor of Atlanta agrees. On Monday, she called Brooks’ death a murder.

Experts say the confrontation with police on Friday night could have been handled differently.

The family and the city are waiting to see whether the district attorney will file charges against the officer who fired three shots at Brooks and another officer who had been trying to arrest the 27-year-old man in the parking lot of a Wendy’s.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night that it comes down to what Brooks was doing when now-fired officer Garrett Rolfe pulled the trigger.

“The critical point that we are examining and the critical point I believe in this case is what happened at the exact moment of the shooting,” Howard said.

If Rolfe shot Brooks, who was unarmed when searched but had taken a Taser from one of the officers, for any reason other than he was a deadly threat to others, then “it is not justified,” Howard said.

The DA said there would be an announcement Wednesday on possible charges, which could range from murder to voluntary manslaughter.

Howard told CNN that from what he had seen between officers and Brooks on body cameras and surveillance video that it was difficult to understand why Brooks, who had fallen asleep at the wheel of his car and failed a field sobriety test, ended up dead.

The other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, is on administrative duty. He could also face charges, Howard said.

Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, told CNN’s Natasha Chen that she hadn’t felt like watching the videos yet but her husband should be alive.

“I wouldn’t have used a gun,” against someone who had a Taser, she said. She thinks the officers should have tried to catch him and tackle him, or let him get go. “I don’t think it was necessary to shoot.”

By midday Monday, protesters had flooded streets in downtown Atlanta decrying Brooks’ death and demanding an end to systemic racism.

They also called for an end to Georgia’s stand-your-ground law and citizen’s arrest law, which made national headlines after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man killed while jogging in southeast Georgia.

Atlanta mayor orders changes in use of force

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the city had formed a task force last week to come up with use of force policy changes. They were to have two weeks to compile a report.

But then Brooks was shot twice in the back.

“On Friday evening, we saw the murder of Rayshard Brooks. And, as I’ve said before, I am often reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There is a fierce urgency of now in our communities,” she said at a Monday news conference.

After deciding that she cannot wait for the task force to give her recommendations, she signed several orders calling for the city’s chief executive to work with the interim police chief on changes.

Officers should use only the amount of objectively reasonable force necessary to protect themselves or others, she said. Deescalation attempts should be taken before the use of force, and the department should require officers to intervene when they see a use of force violation and report it to an on-duty supervisor.

“Our police officers are to be guardians, and not warriors within our communities,” Bottoms said.

The task force is still working and should send its initial recommendations by June 24, Bottoms said.

What should the officer have done?

The fact that Brooks did not have a deadly weapon is important, CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey said. Early in the encounter, an officer asked Brooks if he could pat him down, and Brooks agreed.

“Now you know he’s not in possession of a firearm or any other deadly weapon,” said Ramsey, a former Philadelphia police commissioner.

After Brooks stole the officer’s Taser and ran away, “it looks like he may have even fired the Taser at some point in time,” Ramsey said.

But it’s unlikely Brooks would have been able to use the Taser a second time, Ramsey said.

“Once you fire the Taser, it has to recycle before it can be used again,” he said. “I would doubt very seriously if most citizens would even know how to operate a Taser.”

So instead of shooting Brooks, Ramsey said the officer could have continued the foot pursuit, “get on a radio and call for some assistance.”