ATLANTA — The family of Rayshard Brooks along with the two Atlanta college students Tased by police during summer protests say they now want a special prosecutor after meeting with the Fulton County district attorney.
The group held a news conference after a meeting between Brooks’ widow Tomika Miller, Morehouse student Messiah Young, Spelman student Taniyah Pilgrim and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
“Right now it seems like this is a political football that keeps getting kicked from one place to another, when someone can take it and run with it and start getting these families some kind of justice, some kind of closure to what happened to them last year,” said attorney Justin Miller.
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The Brooks shooting and the Tasing incident involving the college students were investigated by Willis’ predecessor, Paul Howard.
Willis tried to recuse herself from prosecuting the officer-involved cases, saying Howard’s actions and decisions tainted both investigations.
State Attorney General Chris Carr denied Willis’ request for his office to prosecute the cases. Carr said there’s no conflict of interest and refused to honor her request.
Attorney L. Chris Stewart said during their meeting, Willis apologized for not informing the families before she recused herself from the cases.
“We also respect her belief that she can not prosecute this case,” Stewart said.
“The main issue is that the families are in limbo and they can’t go on with their lives because this can’t get off the ground,” Miller said.
Washington received a statement from Willis saying she had a productive meeting with the families.
“As I have stated publicly, I am committed to doing my best to ensure that justice is done in these cases and in every matter that comes to my office.
I assured the families that they can count on my staff and me doing everything we can to make sure these cases are handled appropriately, and that we will keep them and the community informed. While legal ethics experts and I have expressed our concern with the Attorney General’s failure to take action to protect these cases from problems caused by my predecessor’s conduct, I will continue to move forward in ensuring that justice is done.”
The Brooks case gained national attention when he was shot and killed during a confrontation with Atlanta police after falling asleep in the drive-thru line at an Atlanta Wendy’s in June.
Officers’ body camera footage showed one of the officers tried to put Brooks in handcuffs, but Brooks struggled, grabbed one of the officers’ Tasers and ran away. Brooks then pointed that Taser back at the officers. That’s when the video showed an officer firing three shots at Brooks, killing the 27-year-old father of three. Two officers were charged in his death.
The shooting happened just weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked protests across the country and in Atlanta.
The case involving Young and Pilgrim started during one of the protests on May 30. A viral video on social media and body camera footage showed officers use Tasers on the college students, then forcefully dragged them out of the car and arrested them.
Attorneys said the two were out getting something to eat, got caught in traffic and weren’t part of the protests.
Two Atlanta police officers were fired after the video surfaced and four other officers were placed on administrative leave.
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