The city of Atlanta agreed Monday to pay $1 million to the family of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer in a 2020 incident that deepened nationwide unrest in the wake of George Floyd‘s death.
Atlanta’s city council voted 15-0 to approve the settlement nearly three months after prosecutors determined in August that the officers involved in Brooks’ death June 12, 2020, had “committed no crimes” and that the use of deadly force was “reasonable.”
“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,” attorneys representing Brooks' family said in a statement, according NBC affiliate WXIA, which is based in Atlanta. The family's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brooks was fatally shot by an officer amid national unrest over police brutality after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd.
Police had responded to a report that a man had fallen asleep in his vehicle in the drive-thru of a Wendy's fast-food restaurant in the 2020 incident. Two officers located Brooks and bodycam footage showed they had a calm conversation with him for almost 40 minutes. When they administered a field sobriety test and tried to take Brooks into custody, a struggle ensued, however.
In the footage, Brooks could be seen holding a stun gun he had grabbed from an officer as he ran away. He appeared to turn around and point the weapon before an officer, Garrett Rolfe, fired his weapon at him, hitting Brooks in the back, according to investigators.
In August, when prosecutors determined officers involved in Brooks' death had committed no crimes, Pete Skandalakis, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said the circumstances in Brooks' case were different from the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis and the fatal shooting of another Black man in Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery.
“Black lives do matter. I’ve spent my entire career representing Black victims of crime,” Skandalakis said at a news conference at the time. “I understand that encounters between police and the African American community at times are very volatile, but I will ask them to look at the facts of the case.”
Skandalakis' decision appeared to stand in contrast with what then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard found after Brooks’ death, quickly leading to charges against the officers involved. Howard was voted out of office, however, and his successor, citing conflicts of interest, had the case transferred to the Georgia attorney general’s office in early 2021.
Rolfe, a six-year veteran of his department, was initially fired and faced 11 charges, including felony murder. The Atlanta Civil Service Board reinstated him last year, saying his due process rights had been violated. The second officer, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative leave and had faced three charges, including aggravated assault.
“While we are disappointed that prosecutors didn’t pursue a criminal case against the officers involved in Mr. Brooks’ death, we continue to hold out hope that the Department of Justice will intervene in this matter,” Brooks' family's attorneys said Monday, according to WXIA.