'Baby, I don't want that to be you': Rayshard Brooks' wife feared for his safety
Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks was shot by an officer during a struggle and died after surgery, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Wochit
ATLANTA – Rayshard Brooks' wife Tomika Miller worried about Brooks' safety after other unarmed Black men, such as George Floyd, were killed by police.
Miller said Brooks was often profiled by police because he had tattoos on his face.
“I’ve always said, 'Baby, I don’t ever want that to be you,'" Miller said during an emotional press conference with Brooks' family Monday. "And he was always like 'no, it's going to change, it's going to change.' He always tried to stay positive about everything."
On Friday, Miller's fears became a reality.
A police officer fatally shot Brooks, 27, outside a Wendy's fast-food restaurant in Atlanta.
Police were dispatched to the Wendy's around 10:30 p.m. and conducted a sobriety test on Brooks, who failed the test, then resisted officers' attempts to arrest him, according to investigators.
Video shows Brooks fleeing officers after a struggle and then falling to the ground. GBI Director Vic Reynolds said Brooks grabbed a Taser from one officer and appeared to point it at the officer as he fled. The officer fired three shots.
Medical examiner:Two gunshot wounds to the back
Family members remembered Brooks as a loving father of three daughters, ages 8, 2 and 1, and a 13-year-old stepson.
He took his daughter Blessing to get her nails done and pick up something to eat in celebration of her eighth birthday hours before he was killed.
The following day, Blessing had a birthday party with cupcakes and put on a special birthday dress, anticipating that her father was taking her skating.
"Blessing, Memory and Dream will never get to see their father again," Brooks' niece Chassidy Evans said Monday. “Not only was he a girl dad, loving husband, caring bother, and most importantly to me, my uncle I could depend on. Rayshard Brooks was silly, he had the brightest smile, and biggest heart and loved to dance since we were kids.”
His first cousin Gymaco Brooks said he had seen Rayshard just a week and a half ago when he stopped by while Gymaco played chess with Brooks' older brother.
Gymaco said they all caught up and shared a few laughs and drinks.
“He was always happy, he was always smiling,” Gymaco Brooks said. “Life shouldn’t be this complicated. Life shouldn’t be where we have to feel some type of way if we see a police or somebody of a different color.”
Family attorney, L. Chris Stewart, said the officer who shot Brooks should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder.”
Stewart said attorneys were with the family Saturday and watched the children "play and laugh and be oblivious to the facts that their dad was murdered."
“You can’t have it both ways in law enforcement,” Stewart said. “You can’t say a Taser is a nonlethal weapon … but when an African American grabs it and runs with it, now it’s some kind of deadly, lethal weapon that calls for you to unload on somebody.”
The nation is grappling with issues of race and police brutality after the death May 25 of George Floyd who was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd's death sparked three weeks of protests in cities large and small across the USA.
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Many Atlanta businesses were looted and vandalized during the protests. Evans said their family supported Atlanta police during the protests before Brooks' was killed.
“We stood with the Atlanta Police Department when they (protestors) were tearing up our city and said this doesn’t happen here, leave them alone," Evans said. “And here we are three weeks later, those same police took something away from our family that we will never get back."
The officer involved in the Brooks shooting was fired, and another was placed on administrative duty, the police department announced Sunday. The police department released body camera and dash camera footage from both officers. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields also stepped down.
Crystal Brooks, who said she is Rayshard Brooks' sister-in-law, joined protesters outside the Atlanta Wendy's on Saturday night.
“He wasn’t causing anyone any harm,” she said. “The police went up to the car, and even though the car was parked, they pulled him out of the car and started tussling with him. He did grab the Taser, but he just grabbed the Taser and ran.”
Miller pleaded for the public to peacefully protest. Meanwhile she grieves the loss of the man she says was her best friend.
“I can never tell my daughter 'Oh, he’s coming to take you skating or swimming lessons,'" Miller said. “It’s going to be a long time before I heal. It’s going to be a long time before this family heals.”
Ellis reported from Atlanta; Contributing: Susan Miller from Arlington, Virginia. Contributing: The Associated Press