One year after shooting of Rayshard Brooks residents wonder if things have really changed

ATLANTA — A lot of things have happened in the year since Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed in the parking lot of a since burned down Wendy’s on University Avenue.

The remnants of the restaurant are barely noticeable, replaced by concrete barriers and a chain link fence keeping potential onlookers at a distance.

Those barriers are draped in spray paint, some saying “Rest in Peace, Rayshard Brooks”. It’s a stark reminder of what happened on that June 12, 2020 night when Brooks, who had been asleep in his car at the Wendy’s drive-thru, was approached by Atlanta Police.

He woke up and spoke to the two officers who responded for a good 20 minutes according to witnesses. The officers then gave him a sobriety test, and that’s where according to video and witness descriptions, things went wrong.

Brooks started struggling with the officers, grabbing one of their tasers and running away. There’s some question still as to whether he shot the taser at officers. Officer Garrett Rolfe shot at Brooks, killing him in the parking lot.

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The day after the shooting, groups of people began gathering, many protesting what happened. Someone set the Wendy’s on fire and it burned, the entire building severely damaged.

Channel 2′s Kristen Holloway spoke to Marcus Brandon who said he lives close by in Lakewood. Brandon said he too came and protested the day after Brooks’s death. He said he knew Rayshard and knew Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot him, because Rolfe used to patrol in Brandon’s neighborhood.

Brandon says a lot of things went wrong.

“I’m like, it’s so close to home, you know, then I came down here and I seen the whole sha-bang,” said Brandon. “I was just so sad. And the same cop, I know him too because he patrol my neighborhood.”

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There have been rumors the restaurant could possibly be rebuilt or the owners could allow the city to turn the property into a Community Center, nobody knows for sure.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot spoke with Kimberly Dukes, the executive director of Atlanta Thrive, a community organization. Dukes believes the incident opened a lot of eyes and she’s hopeful it will bring some unity between police officers and her community.

“Yeah, it was a tragedy, it’s sad. It let mothers know we have to hold our kids closer,” said Dukes. “But it also let the city know that black and brown people have been treated unfairly for a long time.”

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The charges against Rolfe has not made it to trial yet. This past week, a Fulton County Judge announced the State Attorney General’s office will appoint a special prosecutor to lead the case.