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‘This officer had nothing to fear’: MSNBC panel dispels myths from police union president about shooting of Rayshard Brooks

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Rayshard Brooks body camera footage (Photo: screen capture)

The medical examiner ruled that the death of Rayshard Brooks was a homicide, and his death was caused by two gunshots to the back.

Brooks was captured on Atlanta police body cameras showing a reasonable and rational conversation between him and the officer until another policeman arrived. Brooks seemed to pass a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test; still, police moved to arrest him. It was at that moment Brooks struggled, grabbed the police officer’s taser, and ran for his life. He flung the taser behind him, missing the officers entirely, and that was when officers shot him twice in the back.

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In an interview, Cobb County police union president Steven Gaynor said that in one area of the city, a taser is considered a deadly weapon, but he said that he saw the mayor on television say that it isn’t a deadly weapon.

“It’s just a legitimate fight. A legitimate use of force,” said Gaynor. “In one particular case downtown, they referred to that taser as a deadly weapon. Up here, it’s not deadly. But it truly is deadly. If it’s not used by a trained individual, it’s deadly because a trained individual knows where to aim. The taser becomes deadly when an untrained individual uses it.”

The lawyer for the Brooks family explained during a briefing that under Georgia law, a taser is not considered a deadly weapon.

“It’s coming from a police union president,” said former federal prosecutor Paul Butler said during an MSNBC panel discussion. “Police unions stand in the way of reform we need. They fight every effort at transparency and accountability. They defend every officer no matter what the circumstances. in this case, we know the police are only allowed to use deadly force if they’re trying to save their life or the life of someone else. It’s hard to be threatened by someone who’s running away from you. Who you shoot in the back.”

He noted that the bullets in the back were all for falling asleep in his car.

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MSNBC host Joshua Johnson said that although he’s not an expert in tasers, he is educated enough to know that it would be

“I’ve never fired a taser, but I know about how they work,” said Johnson. “Both leads would stick into somebody’s head — as difficult as it is to make that shot when you’re flinging it over your shoulder — that sounds, I’m not in law enforcement, but that sounds like a tall order.”

“It is,” said Butler. “Again, officers are trained when they use their tasers; it’s not deadly force. It’s an alternative to deadly force. And so, this officer had nothing to fear. If they really wanted to call this bad guy who fell asleep in a parking lot, they could have called for backup. They could have gotten a helicopter. There’s no need for this encounter to have this tragic escalation.”

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Atlanta NAACP Vice President Gerald Griggs explained that the neighborhood had problems with the police before, according to neighbors. He said that’s why the protesters are coming out in full force and why people are so frustrated.

See the panel discussion below:

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