ATLANTA (AP) – Rayshard Brooks’ chest arrived at the historic Atlanta Church that was once the pulpit of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for a private funeral Tuesday for the black man whose murder by a white police officer in a fast-food parking lot in the US sparked protests over racial injustice.
King’s daughter, Pastor Bernice King, planned to make comments, along with a friend of Brooks, his mother-in-law, and the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Reverend Raphael Warnock.
“Rayshard Brooks didn’t just run from the police. He fled from a system that enslaves people. A system that doesn’t give ordinary people who have made mistakes a second chance, a real chance for redemption,” said Warnock, a Democratic candidate for the Senate, in an excerpt released for service.
Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the rear by Agent Garrett Rolfe on June 12 after a struggle that broke out when police tried to handcuff him for being drunk behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. The video showed Brooks grabbing a police Taser and firing at him as he ran away.
Rolfe, 27, was charged with murder and imprisoned without bail. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was charged with serious abuse and accused of stepping on Brooks’ shoulder while dying on the sidewalk. Lawyers for both men said their clients’ actions were justified.
The case took place during protests and violence spread across the country due to the death of George Floyd, the black man who was pronounced dead on May 25 after a white Minneapolis put his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
The Atlanta police chief quit less than 24 hours after Brooks’s death and the Wendys were burned by protesters.
Although Brooks was not a member of Ebenezer Baptist, the church where King preached is a “refuge for those who suffer,” Warnock said in a statement announcing the funeral plans. Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry provided financial aid to the service, the statement said.
An afternoon hearing for Rolfe that would have conflicted with the funeral was canceled by a judge. Under the law, crime victims and their families have the right to be heard during such proceedings.
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