The chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police National Trustees on Monday pushed back against claims Atlanta police broke the rules in the Friday night shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
Brooks was killed by Atlanta police who were summoned to a Wendy’s after a report that Brooks was asleep in his car in the drive-thru line. When police attempted to arrest Brooks, he resisted and fled. Videos of the brief chase appeared to show Brooks in possession of a Taser taken from one of the officers and pointing it at the officers.
The shooting of Brooks prompted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, to call for the officer involved to be fired, which he was. The Fulton County prosecutor has said the officer could face a felony murder charge.
Loveland, Colorado, police Sgt. Rob Pride, who chairs the FOP trustees, said Monday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that, based on video of the encounter, the Atlanta officers did not appear to have acted inappropriately.
“With the current training that we have, and I can say for across the country, most agencies, this would be a deadly force encounter because of the incapacitating capabilities of the Taser,” Pride said, saying his conclusion was based on consultation with other officers across the nation.
Pride said the danger is not just in the Taser but what can happen after a police officer is rendered helpless by a Taser.
“We can look through history and see how many officers in policing history have been killed when they were disarmed of their own firearm, and when a Taser is used against officers, it has that capability,” Pride said. “It has that capability of incapacitating an officer and having them disarmed and killed with their firearm.
“And so I don’t know of many agencies that this wouldn’t be a deadly force encounter.”
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“It will be interesting to see what comes out of the investigation in regards to whether policies were met or not,” Pride said. “But on first value, just looking at the video, I don’t see how this would not meet a deadly force encounter by most agency standards.”
Host Ainsley Earhardt asked why, then, the officer was fired.
“I think that’s a great question for the police chief and the mayor,” Pride said.
“But it would appear that perhaps a due process was not followed for those officers, and I think there might have been a quick reaction here,” he said. “That’s my opinion looking from the outside in.”
Pride said the outcome of the incident was not something that anyone in law enforcement would have wanted.
“Nobody can argue that this is a tragedy,” he said. “It’s absolutely a tragedy.”
However, he noted that the officers were summoned to the scene and the shooting came at the tail end of the encounter.
“The officers did not start firing when Mr. Brooks initially just started running away,” Pride said. “He ran for a short distance. You can’t hear what orders they were giving him, but they did not shoot when he started to run.”
Pride said the action Brooks took by pointing an object at officers was significant.
“When the shooting occurred was when turned around with, who knows what they thought it was, but we all know now that it was a Taser, and deployed it, and that’s when they delivered the deadly force,” he said.
Pride said the officers at the scene faced “a lose-lose situation.”
“If they let this gentleman go and he gets in his car and he kills somebody, then they’re on the hook for that, and if they make an arrest and there is resisting and then this tragedy occurs,” he said.
Pride also said one issue lost in the controversy is the issue of complying with police to avoid beginning a tragic chain of events.
“Had there been no arrest, he had not tried to escape, this would never happen and we wouldn’t have this tragedy,” the sergeant said. “And when folks resist arrest like this and try to escape, the outcomes are unpredictable.”
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