Jun 15, 2020
Rayshard Brooks Family & Attorneys Press Conference Transcript
The family & lawyers of Rayshard Brooks, a black man who was killed by police in Atlanta, held a press conference on June 15. Read the full transcript here.
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Justin Miller: (00:00)
We are not here today to get into the specific minutia of the case. What we will be doing today is introducing you to the family of Mr. Brooks so that everyone will see and understand what was taken away from all of these people behind us. You’re going to hear from Mr. Brooks’ niece and cousins and Mr. Brooks’ wife as well. And hopefully you’ll get to see and understand why this is very important and why this can’t happen again. So first up you have Chastity Evans. This is Mr. Brooks’ niece. She’ll say a few words.
Chastity Evans: (00:54)
My Uncle Rashad. On June 12th, one of our biggest fears became our reality. Not only did we lose another black on our mail, this time, it landed on our front doorstep. Blessing, Memory and Dream will never get to see their father again. Not only was he a girl dad, he was a loving husband, caring brother. And most importantly to me, an uncle I could depend on. Rashad Brooks was silly. He had the brightest smile and the biggest heart and loved to dance since we were kids. Me and my uncle are both 27 years of age, 27 years of age. No one walking this green earth expects to be shot and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in a drive through. Rashad has a family who loves him, who would have gladly came and got him so he could be here with us today. The day after my uncle’s murder, his oldest daughter sat for her father in her birthday dress to come and take her skating. And to look across the room and know that it’s never a possibility anymore breaks my heart.
Chastity Evans: (02:23)
Me and my family are still grieving the loss of my grandmother when my uncle’s life was horrifically taken away from us. Not only are we hurt, we are angry. When does it stop? We’re not only pleading for justice. We’re pleading for change. Zone three, where my uncle was killed, is the same zone we represent and loved all our lives. We stood with the Atlanta Police Department when they were just tearing up our city and said, “This doesn’t happen here. Leave them alone.” And here we are three weeks later, those same police took something away from my family that we’ll never get back, Rashad Brooks. Most of us haven’t slept or eaten since we viewed a video of a man being murdered to only get a phone call moments later to tell you it’s your loved one.
Chastity Evans: (03:13)
This entire situation has traumatized me and my entire family I’m sure for the rest of our lives. My uncle did not die in vain. His life mattered. George Floyd’s life mattered. Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. Michael Brown’s life mattered. Sandra Bland’s life mattered. I’m not only asking the city of Atlanta to stand with us. I’m asking for everyone in this nation to stand with us as we seek justice for Rashad. Thank you.
Justin Miller: (03:45)
Now you’ll hear from his cousin, Tiara Brooks.
Tiara Brooks: (03:54)
Rashad Brooks, the name that may start a protest tomorrow or another day in the future. However, the man himself no longer has a future. He can no longer live in the present nor plan for tomorrow. No matter what the different points of view are of his death. We must all agree to one fact, the fact that he was killed by the Atlanta Police Department. The fact that someone’s cousin, brother, uncle, nephew, father, companion and friend is no longer in this world. The trust that we have with the police force is broken. And the only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change with the police department.
Tiara Brooks: (05:04)
But honestly true, true justice will never prevail because we will never be able to bring back Rashad Brooks. He will no longer be able to return to this world nor to his family. However, again, if we stand together and unite as one, there will be no more cases similar to Rashad’s. How many more protests will it take to ensure that the next victim isn’t your cousin, your brother, your uncle, your nephew, your friend, or your companion so that we can finally end the suffering of police excessive force. We are tired, you guys, we’re tired and we are frustrated. Most importantly, we’re heartbroken. So we need justice for Rashad Brooks.
Justin Miller: (06:15)
This is Mr. Brooks’ cousin. His name is Mr. [inaudible 00:06:19].
Speaker 4: (06:22)
I’m going try to make this brief and clear. First and foremost, we want to say, we want to show our appreciation and thanks to everybody that’s been out here supporting us and helping us, and we encourage you to continue to do so. And I actually to go by the name of [inaudible 00:06:42], a lot of people know me as that. And a lot of celebrities I see that have been trying to reach out and try to find the family, we are the family, I am the family. And if you’re trying to help, reach out to me so we can try to make sure that my cousin and his wife and his kids is taken care of. If you can’t help financially, then try to just keep helping with your voice and stay with the protest. But again, I want to just tell you that we appreciate all the help. We appreciate the voices around the nation. We thank you.
Chris Stewart: (07:14)
As you all know, I’m attorney Chris Stewart and I tried to figure out a way to encompass everything that’s going on and get rid of the division of one side versus the other and get the whole country to understand what’s going on. And the first thing that came to mind is what we all just went through with the coronavirus outbreak. We all sheltered in place for months losing our mind. And then we started seeing on the news, large amounts of white Americans demanding change, coming out and rallying in the streets and protesting and making their governments change laws so that we could start getting back to regular life. And as I sat stunned, watching TV and watching so many of our white brothers and sisters out there rallying, protesting because they thought something was wrong with the current state of laws in their city or state. We didn’t have a problem with it. That is their right as Americans to demand change, to demand laws change.
Chris Stewart: (08:25)
So why is it so offensive or painful or off-putting when African-Americans step forward to demand change against police brutality? Why is it so wrong when we are protesting in the street, when we see something wrong with police abuse? It’s our God given and American right also. So it’s a thing of unity when you see both sides of it. You have to support and vocalize your rights as we did and we watched on TV and as people are doing in the streets now demanding changes in laws, in policies, in accountability, in value of life, where that a man that was running away, doesn’t get shot twice in the back.
Chris Stewart: (09:08)
And now there’s a question of was it reckless? Or should he have used that force? Let me tell you and show you why shooting in a crowded parking lot is so reckless and so unnecessary of what he did. A witness today sent us his vehicle, which was hit by one of Officer Rolfe’s bullets while he and his kids were in the car. A couple of feet up, and we would have had another loss of life.
Chris Stewart: (09:44)
So trying to justify the actions of shooting at Mr. Brooks as he’s running away in a crowded Wendy’s parking lot when you can easily catch him later for what started off as a very non-confrontational situation, it can’t be justified. It cannot be justified. Otherwise we’re going to continue to lose lives from stray bullets shooting at someone that should have never been shot at. And people ask, how could this have ended? Why did he resist? Why it could have ended there? Well, it also could have ended here. I can walk. My sister’s house is right here. That’s how this could have ended. It didn’t have to go to that level. And that’s what we’re saying in America with policing is this type of empathy is gone. The courtesy of an officer, it wasn’t like he was called there because Mr. Brooks had been swerving and was a danger to society. The first call was because a man was asleep. Where is the empathy in just letting him walk home?
Chris Stewart: (11:00)
That’s what policing is supposed to be no matter what color you are. But as they said, that’s broken, that’s gone. We don’t see that often. And we definitely don’t see it in the African American community. So just like the protests before, that’s what we’re demanding. It’s not just laws and policy changes, but a mental change in policing, which is missing. So we do want everybody’s support. We’re looking forward to the DA’s findings in this situation. And the only thing that we can ask for is some semblance of an idea of justice, because there is no definition anymore of what it is. But what we know right now is that a man’s life was taken when it should never have happened.
Justin Miller: (11:48)
Right now we want to introduce everyone to Tamika who many of you have met and the kids, Blessing, Memory and Dream. Blessing, it was her eighth birthday when her father died. She had her birthday party on the same exact day that they found out that their father was killed. She had her birthday dress on as all of you have heard. She had cupcakes and friends over. She was supposed to go skating with her dad and that didn’t happen of course. So also Makai who was 13 is his stepson. And he took care of him as well. And Tamika, do you want to say a few words?
I just want to thank everybody for all the protests and love and support that you guys have done. Words can’t explain how thankful I am for everything. Even though I can’t bring my husband back, I know he’s down smiling because his name will forever be remembered. And there is no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what’s been done. I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. I can never tell my daughter, “Oh, he’s coming to take you skating or swimming lessons.” So it’s just going to be a long time before I heal. It’s going to be a long time before this family heals. Like I said, I’m just thankful for everything that everyone is out there doing. And I just ask that if you could just keep it as a peaceful protest, that would be wonderful because we want to keep his name positive and great.
Chris Stewart: (13:49)
Lastly, we do want to acknowledge and thank Tyler Perry, who we spoke with, who will be taking care of the funeral for the family. And it’s support like that and it’s people who are actually in this community that love the community that want healing and families like this to never have to go through something like this to step forward. And we want to thank him for such a generous move. Yeah. Three brief questions.
I have a question for anyone in the family. Did Rashad ever discuss what had been going on? Did Rashad ever discuss with them the previous shootings that had happened, all the conversations that everyone’s been having for the last [inaudible 00:14:41].
Oh, with the George… I mean, we’ve watched it and I’ve always said, “Baby, I don’t ever want that to be you.” Or, he was always like, “No, it’s going to change. It’s going to change.” He always tried to stay positive about everything. But we’ve had our incidents where we’ve had police officers stereotype my husband, just because of tattoos on his face. So it’s really crazy. I’m scared every day my children go out, my husband go out. My family members go out. I’m scared every day because I don’t know what to say. And this just really startled me because I don’t even know if they’re going to come home.
Chris Stewart: (15:19)
And Christian, that kind of goes to a point of people are asking, “Well, why would he resist when they were trying to put him in handcuffs?” Well, they put George Floyd in handcuffs and he was subsequently killed. So just getting put in handcuffs, if you’re African American doesn’t mean, “Oh, you’re going to get nicely taken to the back of a police car.” So especially watching this video of George Floyd over and over again, his reaction may have been, “I’m not getting put in handcuffs.” So we can’t just toss it out because he resisted. George Floyd didn’t and it ended the same way.
Justin Miller: (15:56)
And this is something that is not new. It’s not just with this George Floyd. All of us, all of us, I know every black man standing behind me and woman, too. We have all been dealing with this from birth. So that’s a trauma that is deep. It’s not something that just started two months ago. I still today dress like I dress, doing what I do, I still feel nervous around police. And that shouldn’t be the case. Right? And so if you feel that way and then you see all of these things happening, of course, you’re going to feel some kind of way when the police come up to you and you are somewhere where you’re not in the perfect state of mind at that point in time.
Speaker 8: (16:38)
Yes. I want to go to Chastity. She spoke about this. I think you mentioned a few weeks ago that your family was asking people not to attack the precinct [inaudible 00:16:51]. Can you talk about that moment and what it feels like now, thinking that that’s the position you took before.
Chastity Evans: (16:59)
It makes you eat your words. I love Atlanta. My family loves Atlanta. And when they were tearing, busting out the windows at CNN Center, we were like, “Why are they doing this to our city?” Burning out police cars. Why are they burning police cars? This doesn’t happen in our city. And it hit our front door. So not only does it happen in our city, it happens in cities everywhere.
Chris Stewart: (17:38)
All right. Just one more.
Speaker 9: (17:42)
Can any of the family members tell us a little bit more about Rashad Brooks, who he was, what did he like? [inaudible 00:17:47].
Justin Miller: (17:42)
Who wants to talk about… come on. Tell them your name.
Jamaico Brooks: (17:55)
My name is [Jamaico 00:17:56] Brooks. Rashad is my first cousin. These people that you see behind you are his sisters, his brothers, his nieces, his nephews, his first cousins. A week and a half ago, me and his older brother were playing chess and he just popped up. And I said, “Cuz, how you doing, man? You good?” And he said, “Yeah, I came because I needed to see my wife and my baby, man. My daughter’s birthday.” I said, “You staying out of trouble? You all right?” He said, “I’m fine. I’m all right.” We shared a few drinks, a few laughs, his big brother gave him a few dollars and he left. He was always happy. He was always smiling. And you’d have to kill him by one his family members because he wasn’t that type of dude.
Jamaico Brooks: (18:59)
So to you people that are looking around the world and you have your feelings, before it happened to us, I can only guess at what you felt, but now I understand. Life shouldn’t be this complicated. Life shouldn’t be where we have to feel some type of way if we see a police or somebody of a different color. I didn’t come down here to talk to the media. I came to love on my people. But if you ask how this young black man was, look at your children when you see them laugh, that innocence, that joy, that pureness of soul. Then you had a glimpse of what we lost. You have a glimpse of what it feels like because tomorrow we’re going to have to deal with it again. We’re going to have to bury him, we’re going to have to say, “We miss you.” And if we didn’t say we love you enough, we got to apologize to him for not telling him that we loved him that much.
Speaker 4: (20:38)
They took my cousin, man. I got to go. I have to go. You all took my cousin. I want you all to know that you all took my cousin. You all took the wrong person. That wasn’t the person [inaudible 00:20:45].
Chris Stewart: (21:16)
I mean, I’m really not sure what else America needs to see. Want a rerun of George Floyd? Sadly, I’m probably going to be back here in a few months with another case.