Trump on Rayshard Brooks shooting: ‘A terrible situation, but you can’t resist a police officer’
President Trump on Wednesday called the killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta a “terrible situation,” but appeared to cast blame on the victim by insisting that “you can’t resist a police officer.”
Trump on Wednesday night offered his most extensive comments to date on the death of Brooks, a 27-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police after an altercation outside a Wendy’s. He called Brooks’s death “very sad,” but offered rigid support for law enforcement amid a broader national discussion over police brutality, saying police officers “have not been treated fairly.”
“I thought it was a terrible situation, but you can’t resist a police officer,” Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “And, you know, if you have a disagreement you have to take it up after the fact.”
The officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, was charged earlier Wednesday with murder and aggravated assault in the case. The district attorney said Rolfe kicked Brooks after he was shot, while his partner stood on the victim’s shoulder. The two did not give first aid for more than two minutes, prosecutors said.
The president said he had just received a report that a lawyer for Rolfe claimed the policeman “heard a sound like … a gunshot” during the incident, calling that detail “a very interesting thing.” Trump indicated he was unsure whether that was accurate, but that it would be left to prosecutors to determine the officer’s fate.
“I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country. They have not been treated fairly,” Trump said. “But, again, you can’t resist a police officer like that. And they ended up in a very terrible disagreement and look at the way it ended. Very bad. Very bad.”
The shooting, which was captured on video, occurred after what the district attorney said was a “cordial” interaction between Brooks and police outside of a Wendy’s in Atlanta. Brooks then failed a sobriety test and officers placed him under arrest. The men had a physical struggle with Brooks grabbing one of their stun guns.
Brooks’s death is the latest in a recent string of police-involved killings of African Americans that has set off a nationwide debate over racial injustice and police brutality. The death of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, has triggered massive demonstrations for the past three weeks.
The Atlanta police chief has resigned over Brooks’s killing, which has renewed calls for reforms.
Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order intended to prioritize federal funding for police departments that go through de-escalation training and includes bans on chokeholds in certain instances. Congress, meanwhile, is debating its own set of policing reforms that would increase accountability and reporting requirements for law enforcement and restrict the use of chokeholds.
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