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Who is Rayshard Brooks? Father of 4 celebrated daughter’s birthday hours before police shot him in Atlanta

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Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks was shot by an officer during a struggle and died after surgery, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

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ATLANTA – Hours before police shot him outside a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in Atlanta on Friday, Rayshard Brooks had done what dads do: enjoyed a father-daughter day in honor of his little girl’s eighth birthday.     

The party was supposed to roll into the next day with a skating celebration. But Brooks, 27, would not be there.

The father of four was shot by an Atlanta police officer while fleeing during a struggle at a Wendy’s drive-thru late Friday night and died at a local hospital, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Brooks had been asleep in his car at the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around the vehicle, GBI said.

Police were dispatched to the Wendy’s around 10:30 p.m. and conducted a sobriety exam on Brooks, who failed the test and then resisted officers’ attempts to arrest him, according to investigators.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds said Brooks had grabbed a Taser from one officer and appeared to point it at the officer as he fled. The officer fired an estimated three shots.

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Family attorney Justin Miller said Brooks took his daughter to get her nails done and something to eat on Friday. On Saturday she put on a special dress for the second round of the big occasion, awaiting her dad.

“She had her birthday dress on because she was waiting for her dad to come pick her up to take her to go skating,” Brooks said at a Saturday news conference. “While we were over there they had a birthday party for her eighth birthday today with cupcakes … while we were sitting there talking with her mom about why her dad’s not coming home.”

Another family attorney,  L. Chris Stewart, said Brooks worked at a “tortilla place.” He said the officer who shot Brooks should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder.”

Stewart said attorneys were with the family on Saturday and watched the children “play and laugh and be oblivious to the facts that their dad was murdered.”

“You can’t have it both ways in law enforcement,” Stewart said. “You can’t say a Taser is a nonlethal weapon … but when an African American grabs it and runs with it, now it’s some kind of deadly, lethal weapon that calls for you to unload on somebody.”

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The shooting comes as the nation grapples with issues of race and police brutality after the May 25 death of George Floyd who was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes. Floyd’s death sparked three weeks of protests in cities large and small across the U.S. 

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The officer involved in the Brooks shooting was fired and another was placed on administrative duty, the police department announced Sunday. The police department released body camera and dash camera footage from both officers. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields also stepped down.

Crystal Brooks, who said she is Rayshard Brooks’ sister-in-law, joined protesters outside the Atlanta Wendy’s on Saturday night. 

“He wasn’t causing anyone any harm,” she said. “The police went up to the car and even though the car was parked they pulled him out of the car and started tussling with him. He did grab the Taser, but he just grabbed the Taser and ran.”

Ellis reported from Atlanta; Miller from Arlington, Va. Contributing: The Associated Press

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