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Mourners pay tribute to Rayshard Brooks at public viewing in Atlanta

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Mourners lined up Monday to pay tribute to Rayshard Brooks, the man an Atlanta police officer fatally shot after responding to a call that Brooks had fallen asleep in a fast-food drive-through. 

A public viewing was heldT in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was Martin Luther King Jr.’s church. Masks were required amid social distancing guidelines. 

Performers played live music, and people were ushered into the church in front of Brooks’ gold-colored coffin for brief moments of reflection.

A large screen inside the church beamed Brooks’ image, name and date of birth and death.

“We want to come in peace and we want to go in peace. We didn’t want to get caught up in a crowd of unrest,” said Latoya Spikes, 40, who brought her daughter, 12-year-old Morgan Green. “We just wanted to come and show our respects.”

Brooks’ death on June 12 sparked widespread outrage and protests in Atlanta and beyond. Within days of the shooting, Police Chief Erika Shields stepped down from her post, officer Garrett Rolfe was fired and charged with 11 counts, including felony murder, and officer Devin Brosnan was placed on administrative duty and faces three charges.

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Brooks, who was Black, failed a sobriety test and was being handcuffed when he struggled to get away from police. Video from the scene shows Brooks fleeing with an officer’s Taser when an officer shoots him from behind. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Brooks’ death a homicide. He was 27.

“I didn’t know Rayshard Brooks but, just like George Floyd, we know him now,” said Manerva Harris, 42, who wore a shirt reading “I CAN’T BREATHE.” She used an umbrella to shield herself from intense afternoon sun while she waited in line.

On Tuesday at 1 p.m. EDT, a private funeral service for Brooks’ family will be held, also at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Last week, Brooks’ family attorney, L. Chris Stewart, announced that Tyler Perry would be paying for the funeral costs

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, will give the eulogy. Gospel singers Smokie Norful, Tamela Mann and Kurt Carr are expected to perform.

Brooks is being remembered as a “girl dad” by his loved ones, according to a release. He will be buried in Atlanta.

“Rayshard Brooks wasn’t just running from the police. He was running from a system that makes slaves out of people,” said a preview quote from the eulogy that was released Monday. “A system that doesn’t give ordinary people who’ve made mistakes a second chance, a real shot at redemption.”

Ebenezer, founded in 1886, is the home to the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site and includes several buildings around the King home on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta’s historic Sweet Auburn district, according to the church’s website. 

The Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. became pastor in 1931 and was joined by his oldest son in 1960.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Breaking down the video: Legal scholars break down key moments in shooting timeline

A look at the allegations: Rayshard Brooks was kicked, denied medical care: The stunning allegations against ex-Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe

Why police stick together: Devin Brosnan likely won’t break ‘blue wall of silence’ to testify against Garrett Rolfe

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