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Atlanta Shooting Ruled Homicide, Brings Urgency to Police Reforms

06-15-2020
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Brooks Atlanta

The death of Rayshard Brooks has been ruled a homicide. The ruling came after dramatic video showed the incident that led to the police shooting in Atlanta. Brooks had failed several sobriety tests outside a Wendy's restaurant where he resisted arrest and ran away after seizing a police taser. An officer shot and killed him as he fled, pointing the taser in their direction.

Brooks' wife Tomika Miller said he wasn't dangerous.
"I didn't know I was going to wake up and my husband never coming home," she explained.

Protestors set fire to the Wendy's and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned in the wake of the shooting. Police officer Garrett Rolfe was fired and another officer was suspended. 

The Atlanta shooting gives a renewed sense of urgency to police reform legislation. Both congress and the president are expected to act this week.

Democrats are pushing to end qualified immunity which shields officers like Rolfe from civil lawsuits. 

"We have to ask ourselves as a society, do we want to have a nation where police officers do really awful things...not be held accountable to civil rights charges," said Senator Cory Booker (D) New Jersey.

But the president and other Republicans say qualified immunity is off the table. Senator Tim Scott called it a poison pill that will kill police reform legislation.

"We're going to have to find a path that helps us reduce misconduct within the officers and at the same time we know that any poison pill in legislation means we get nothing done," Scott explained. "That sends the wrong signal, perhaps the worst signal right now in America. "

Scott has been working on police reform for five years and Republicans have tasked him with drafting a proposal in the Senate. 

Key points are improved officer training and greater transparency when wrongdoing occurs. 

Also, Scott and others like Oklahoma Senator James Lankford support banning chokeholds.

"That is one of the things we should have engaged in a long time ago. Many departments around the country have already banned chokeholds. A lot of other departments are increasing that now," Lankford explained.

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week setting national standards for police. He agrees chokeholds should be banned except in certain situations where an officer's life may be under threat.

 "So, you have to be careful. With that being said, I think it would be a very good thing that generally speaking it should be ended," the president insisted.

Ben Carson--Trump's only black cabinet member said it's time for Americans to come together and calmly share
their multiple perspectives.

 "We have to stop putting everything into the arena of combat and let's see if we can find a way to work together because if we don't, we're doomed," Carson warned.

And there were some rays of hope, healing, and grace--"Amazing Grace" shared over the weekend in Nashville where Christians participated in an evangelistic outreach called "Awake Tennessee." They took to singing the popular hymn outside a nightclub on Broadway that was looted recently by rioters.

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