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Public to honor Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta as family mourns after police shooting

Tomika Miller, widow of Rayshard Brooks, the Black man shot dead by an Atlanta police officer, arrives to attend his public viewing a day before his funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

BY RICH MCKAY

The public will have the opportunity to pay their respects to Rayshard Brooks, the African American shot in the back by an Atlanta police officer, at a viewing to be held on Monday at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Following the public viewing, family and friends will gather a private funeral for Brooks the next day, and the church’s website will live-stream the services.

The venue carries special significance for people of color in the United States. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, perhaps the most influential and charismatic civil rights leaders of the 1960s, preached at the church until his assassination in 1968.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry will underwrite the costs of the funeral, according to the Brooks family’s lawyer.

The death of Brooks two weeks ago, coming on the heels of the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police, intensified national outrage over police brutality and racism in the American criminal justice system.

Brooks, 27, was the latest in a long line of African Americans whose fatal encounters with law enforcement have been captured on video. The killings have triggered demonstrations demanding racial justice that have erupting daily across the country in recent weeks.

The protests have prompted several localities to review police funding and procedures, including New York state, which enacted a package of policing overhauls earlier this month.

Brooks died on June 12 after an employee at a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant called police to say a customer had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-through lane and appeared intoxicated.

After failing a sobriety test, Brooks tussled with two police officers and wrested a Taser stun gun from one of them. Brooks then appeared to fire the Taser in the direction of the officers before turning and running. Video then shows one of the officers shooting him twice in the back, with one round piercing his heart, officials said.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Brooks was running away at the time of the shooting. He was more than 18 feet away and posed no threat.

Surveillance and other videos also appeared to show one officer kicking Brooks and another standing on his shoulders as he lay dying.

The former Atlanta police officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, 27, was fired and charged with murder. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was placed on administrative duty and charged with aggravated assault. The city’s police chief resigned.

The Wendy’s restaurant was burned down during a demonstration on the first night after the killing.

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