Jun 18, 2020
Witness to the Shooting of Rayshard Brooks & Attorney Press Conference Transcript
Family attorneys of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot by police in Atlanta, spoke to the media today with witnesses of the shooting. Read the full transcript of their speeches here.
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Attorney Williams: (00:01)
Everything that my clients are doing in this cooperation with the authorities is to support that family and to get them justice. But not only justice for that family before this community, for their community back in Memphis, because what they were involved in is an important issue in this country. It’s an issue that the founding father of my firm, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr has started the fight over 40, 50 years ago with the Deadwyler case. And our firm as a whole has been fighting this fight. And we stand with these clients, we stand with this community, we stand with the Brooks family to make sure that justice is served and no other family has to have a press conference like this and like what we’ve seen.
Attorney Williams: (01:04)
We also offer our prayers and condolences to the Floyd family, the Taylor family, to Aubrey family, and every family that has lost someone due to unreasonable and excessive force of police officers. Make no mistake about it, what our clients witnessed was a murder. They saw an unarmed man with no weapon as relates to a deadly weapon get shot in the back. What statements they have provided and information they have provided to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Fulton County District Attorney’s office confirms that at no time was Mr. Brooks a threat or deadly threat or harm to the officers or anyone else that night. Each of my clients confirm that at the time Mr. Brooks was shot, he was running away, he was turned, his back was turned, and three shots were fired, two entering the body of Mr. Brooks, unfortunately killing him, one entered the vehicle driven by Mr. Evans and coming close to Mr. Perkins, who was a passenger on the passenger side of the vehicle. The bullet just barely missed Mr. Perkins.
Attorney Williams: (02:47)
As you can imagine, this has been a very emotional, scary time for my clients. They not only witnessed someone dying in front of them less than 10 feet, they also themselves were almost seriously injured or killed. We could be here talking about four, three, four, five deaths. And what makes Officer Rolfe’s actions, besides the fact that without justification, he shot Mr. Brooks, what I think is important and that my clients bring to light is that he did this action in a crowded Wendy’s parking lot with innocent bystanders. There were four to five vehicles in that driveway. Any of those people were at danger.
Attorney Williams: (04:01)
The fourth amendment of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of this land, and the APD policies and procedures specifically only allow deadly use of force that is objectively reasonable. But as we’ve learned over the last few weeks, you cannot expect unreasonable people to conduct themselves in a reasonable manner. We need a culture change, we need a mentality change. And if we’re going to hold officers to a reasonable standard, that standard needs to be set by the community and what is common sense. And it’s never reasonable or common sense to fire a weapon, a gun, at someone running away who had committed no violent crime. There’s never reasonableness or common sense to fire a weapon in a crowded parking lot where patrons are trying to get food. As the video shows, this could have been avoided by just letting him run away, giving him another day. But instead, a family has lost a father, a loved one, a friend. This community has lost a man. And these individuals have suffered greatly witnessing something that they did not voluntarily participate in.
Attorney Williams: (05:45)
Before I let them say something, I just want to comment with this. I want to commend Paul Howard, the District Attorney of Fulton County. I have several cases in this city against the City of Atlanta Police Department. And I got several cases in this nation. And he is the one prosecutor that has consistently held officers to the same standards that we should hold each of us in this community. If you do something wrong and it’s criminal, you should be judged accordingly by your peers. And I commend Mr. Howard, this is a difficult situation for him, but he’s doing the right thing based on everything I’ve seen and what my clients have expressed to him.
Attorney Williams: (06:32)
I also want to take the time to commend Mayor Bottoms. She has been amazing in her leadership, not only for this city, but for this nation. She has set an example of what leaders and politicians should do when faced with a crisis. My founding father of our firm, Johnnie L. Cochran, used to always say, “You will be judged how you deal with things in time of crisis.” Mayor Bottoms, in my opinion, has done that. She has put together the Mayor’s task force. I am fortunate to be a part of that task force, and I’m going to give every aspect of my time, my resources and my experience to make sure that we as a community do better and get better out of our police force.
Attorney Williams: (07:34)
This is hard for my clients so I ask that you be patient with them. A lot of things they may not be able to discuss, but I will tell you where they’re at in the investigation. They have provided statements to Fulton County District Attorney’s office. They have provided statements to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Evans has provided his vehicle for full inspection. And you would have to discuss the findings as relates to those things to the GBI. I’m going to briefly let Mr. Perkins come up and say briefly what’s on his mind. He frankly may not want to tell you what he saw, it’s hard. But I’m going to let him talk and then let Mr. Evans talk.
Attorney Williams: (08:31)
I will take just a few questions because I think what has been said and seen over the last few days speaks for itself, but I’m going to make sure that everybody gets an opportunity to meet my clients, who I frankly believe have been courageous. They could have just not spoke up, said anything. I know there’s a lot of debate right now whether the other officer is going to speak. I will tell you that there is no dispute, my clients will talk, whether it’s in front of the District Attorney or GBI, or whether it’s in front of a jury at some later point. And they will speak honestly and from their heart. Thank you. Mr. Perkins.
Mr. Perkins: (09:26)
Hey, how y’all doing? I just want to first show my condolences to the family. Atlanta, real great city. I love Atlanta. This is not my first time being to Atlanta. I’m from Memphis. And we come to Atlanta to try to conquer our dreams, not witness no murders. What I witnessed was real horrific and I wouldn’t wish that on nobody who trying to visit a city. I mean, I don’t know where to start. I witnessed the murder. I almost was killed myself. I feel trampled about it, but I’m glad the family getting his justice that they deserve. And I wish it’d just all just cease, but it’s hard because where I’m from, it happens every day, murders. Memphis just one of them cities. But we come here to try to escape that. I wasn’t here long before it happened, I was just here about two hours maybe. We wanted to get some food. And went to the Wendy’s and this situation occurred. I mean, it’s not my fault. I wasn’t looking for it. I just was at the wrong place, wrong time. And I just hate it happened.
Speaker 3: (10:49)
Can we ask him questions?
Attorney Williams: (10:54)
A little bit later. You want to get up, Melvin?
Melvin Evans: (10:57)
Attorney Williams: (10:59)
You good? You can ask him some questions then.
Speaker 3: (11:04)
Thank you for being here, first of all. And it’s a couple questions. When you first saw police talking to Mr. Brooks, can you just describe how you felt watching the escalation? And the second question is just did you see the officer kick him after he was on the ground?
Mr. Perkins: (11:24)
So you want me to answer the first question first?
Speaker 3: (11:25)
Yes. And I can ask the second again.
Mr. Perkins: (11:25)
Say that first question again.
Speaker 3: (11:26)
How did you feel when you saw it escalate, when you saw it go from-
Mr. Perkins: (11:33)
I called it. He’ll tell hisself, I called it. When I heard the officer, “Stop resisting.” And it’s nighttime. We just pulled up, we weren’t in the lot maybe three minutes before all this occurred. And I just heard all the tussling and, “Stop resisting, stop fighting.” I said, “This man fixing to kill this man out here.” I ain’t know what color he was or nothing. We were the last car line and the situation occurred up there first before he started running toward our vehicle. And when I seen him running, I heard the tasers or whatever. Then when I heard them shots, my first reaction was to duck. I was up under the seat in the back seat ducking. I didn’t even see nothing until we was off the lot. I ain’t see none of that. I was down. I was trying to duck away. So I don’t know about the other stuff. Yeah.
Speaker 3: (12:30)
When the bullet hit the car, did you think you might’ve been shot?
Mr. Perkins: (12:33)
We didn’t know the bullet hit the car until we left. I smelled gun smoke. I was back there smelling gun smoke. I don’t know if it was the fiberglass from the vehicle, but I smelled gun smoke while I was down the whole time. So I mean, that whole situation just was terrible to me. I didn’t expect it. I promise that was the last thing I expected.
Speaker 3: (12:57)
Were you the only two in the car?
Mr. Perkins: (12:58)
Nah, it was me, him, and his girl. His girl was in the front seat. I was in the back seat on the passenger side. And this, actually, the vehicle got shot on the side where I was at. I didn’t know that until we got back to where we was going because our whole purpose was down to work on some music stuff, this is why we come here, to try to do music. But we ain’t even get to do that after this situation happened. It just, everything we left, the whole trip. We weren’t even in the city long.
Speaker 5: (13:31)
Did you see the officers try to render any aid to him?
Mr. Perkins: (13:35)
No, I ain’t even see that. I was down. After that first couple shots, that first shot, maybe the first shot, I ducked. After that, I didn’t see nothing. I’m hearing screaming in the car from his girl. And I heard him say, “Man, he dead.” Because I guess he seen the body. I didn’t see the body. I was still down. I ain’t know where the bullet come from or nothing. I ain’t know … My first reaction was just to duck. I didn’t try to raise up, bring no camera phone out at the moment. I ain’t do none of it. That wasn’t my first reaction. My instincts just told me, get down, man, don’t get back up until everything cease, then we safe.
Speaker 5: (14:15)
You say you see this all the time in Memphis. Have you ever seen anybody killed before?
Mr. Perkins: (14:20)
Yes, ma’am. Not an officer killed a black man, but I mean, murders happen like water in Memphis. Memphis tough. And for us to come here, well, we trying to conquer our dreams and try to get away from the negativity. Anybody in Memphis will tell you Atlanta is … We look up to Atlanta, we salute Atlanta. And for us to go through that, it just kind of, it made me feel some type of way. And it’s timing, I ain’t expect … This the last thing I expect, man, I promise.
Speaker 3: (14:53)
So I’m sure you knew all about the George Floyd situation while you were sitting in that drive thru. Once you saw the officer shoot, or at least you saw it and then you ducked, what did you think about the force that he used?
Mr. Perkins: (15:10)
I just thought it wasn’t necessary. If he had a taser, why not have a taser fight? This man didn’t have no armed weapon or nothing that’s going to kill you or hurt you or harm you, already shot the taser twice. It wasn’t nothing else left for the taser to do, really. So I feel like it was just, it was off. That whole situation just was off. I ain’t never seen this or witnessed this a day in my life. I’m 35 years old. I never seen this.
Speaker 6: (15:41)
As a black man in America with everything going on, how do you feel? Do you feel safe here?
Mr. Perkins: (15:46)
Oh, yeah, I feel safe. Because we was ducked off anyway. We just decided to leave our studio to go get some food.
Speaker 6: (15:55)
Will you feel safe if you encounter the police in the future?
Mr. Perkins: (16:00)
Oh, no. I don’t feel safe going back home because we got to travel through Alabama, we got to travel through Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee. These the biggest cities of it. So I’m kind of trampled that, because we got to go back home.
Speaker 7: (16:18)
You said you didn’t record video on your cell phone. Did anybody in the car?
Mr. Perkins: (16:22)
I recorded the video after we left the lot. The instinct didn’t tell me, “Oh, let me catch this person shooting his man right then.” I thought about that once we was out the lot and the police had started pulling up. That’s when I pulled out my camera and just caught the last minute of it. I didn’t catch the actual, because that wasn’t on my mind at the time.
Speaker 7: (16:42)
Did anybody in the car?
Attorney Williams: (16:43)
Yeah. Nobody else. Nobody caught video during the incident. As you can imagine, their number one priority at that point was their own safety and their life. They took video afterwards and that video has been provided to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. So if anybody wants to see that, they have to go through them.
Speaker 8: (17:03)
Question for you. This is the scene that we’ve seen play out multiple times over the years, right? Something everybody’s talking about now, it’s gotten a lot of attention. As a black man, you said you never saw an officer, a white officer shoot a black man before in person. As a black man, you’ve now seen that. What are your thoughts and how do you feel now experiencing this?
Mr. Perkins: (17:25)
I mean, it’s so normal today. It’s just happening in different cities. It’s just, I mean, it’s kind of … I don’t know if they’re trying to make us get used to it or what, but it’s kind of like it’s something normal now. It happen every day now in different cities. This the first time that I heard it happened in Atlanta, me personally. But I done heard it in Houston, I done heard it in other states and stuff like that. I just didn’t know I was going to come and witness it myself. I wasn’t even here for a brief moment. We just got, literally, got here. So that wasn’t even in my mind. I just come to handle my business and go back to the house.
Speaker 8: (18:09)
Is there ever going to be a go back to normal for you? Are you forever changed after seeing this?
Mr. Perkins: (18:14)
I feel like I am, sir. This our man, he be talking about off cameras … All these cameras, I didn’t ask for this. I’m not here for the exposure. I’m just here to get justice from the family and tell the truth of me being a witness. You know what I’m saying? I’m not here for all the extra stuff, for real.
Speaker 5: (18:36)
Michael, can you expand upon the fact that you actually were more than a witness that night, you could have been a possible victim? At what point did you realize that the car had been hit? And what are your feelings knowing that being an innocent bystander just going to Wendy’s that night for food you could have been the victim of a police shooting?
Mr. Perkins: (18:56)
When I thought about it, see, my mother really made me think about it because she concerned about me being here. I’m my mama only child. So you can just imagine how she feels. This where it really bothers me. When I get texts and calls, “I’m praying for you.” I want you to be happy for me because I’m standing up trying to get justice. Now, when you start praying for me, that’s when I get nervous. Because I’m like, “Why is you praying for me now? I’m doing something right.” I was at work when I got called and had to take off two, three days to come get justice. And I didn’t ask for that.
Speaker 5: (19:34)
Did you know the car had been hit while you were in the car? When did you realize?
Mr. Perkins: (19:37)
We realized that when we get back to the studio. And you know what I’m saying, everybody getting out. And he just bought that vehicle recently. He know his vehicle and he’s like, “What’s that?” And when we went back to the videos and stuff, they said he got hit two times. We heard three shots. So that’s what made us say the third shot is the car, man.
Speaker 5: (20:01)
What kind of car is it?
Mr. Perkins: (20:02)
It’s a Trailblazer, white Trailblazer.
Speaker 7: (20:05)
What was your reaction to yesterday’s charges? Do you feel like the charges are appropriate?
Mr. Perkins: (20:11)
I feel like justice is justice. If he killed a man that’s running away from you, let me kill somebody right now running away from me, I’m getting the full strength. So if he don’t get the full strength, he can at least get half of it. He killed somebody. He’s somebody’s dad, he somebody’s husband. Somebody love him. Regardless of how the officers felt about him or whatever, he was a man. He was a citizen in some world. He wasn’t here, from my understanding, he was from somewhere else visiting here.
Speaker 7: (20:45)
Can you talk a little bit about your willingness to testify at trial?
Attorney Williams: (20:49)
I would just tell you, we’re going to follow his responsibility as a citizen, but we’re going to allow the District Attorney to tell us when and where or determine whether it’s even necessary for him to testify at trial. That’s not something that we determine. We let the criminal process work itself out. We’ll take one more question.
Speaker 5: (21:12)
I just have a clarifying question. Earlier you said you heard the cops shout, “Stop resisting.” And then did you say you called it as in that’s what you thought would come out of that?
Mr. Perkins: (21:22)
I mean, it’s just what I felt like that was going to happen because that’s what’s been happening lately. These cops been killing people. So I’m like, “Okay, they wrestling with this man. And the cops telling him, ‘Stop fighting, stop resisting.'” I’m backed up just really saying something, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m like, “They fixing to kill.” I’m trying to laugh it off, but it actually happened. So that’s what really messed me up. I’m like, “Dang.” I started ducking. I ain’t see nothing. They asked me what I see after the fact, I didn’t see nothing but the floor. That’s it. I wasn’t trying to get no footages, none of that, until I thought about it. And that was after we left the scene.
Speaker 5: (22:05)
Thank you. Attorney Williams? Can you just kind of clarify for us? Are they rappers or what are they doing in the studio? Explain that.
Attorney Williams: (22:22)
Yeah, they have a rap group. I’ll let, Melvin, you want to come and talk about what you do and what brought to you? And hopefully, they’ll put me on a single with them.
Melvin Evans: (22:40)
Basically, we was down here for a video shoot with Pastor Troy. I know everybody familiar with Pastor Troy. We had a video shoot. And that was basically why we came down here, for a video shoot. He goes by Mike Peezy. I go back Two Turn [inaudible 00:00:22:55].
Speaker 5: (23:03)
Mr. Perkins: (23:03)
Speaker 5: (23:03)
Can you spell that for me?
Mr. Perkins: (23:04)
Speaker 7: (23:05)
When did you guys get in town?
Mr. Perkins: (23:06)
Speaker 7: (23:06)
Attorney Williams: (23:11)
Yeah, I got one question with him since he came up. It’s been hard for him. It’s been hard. He’s been doing his best to give out information, but this is difficult. And so it’s emotional. But if you got anything to say, just go ahead and say it.
Speaker 3: (23:28)
I got a question for you. Can you please, since you were in the driver’s seat, I was just hoping you were looking. Can you tell us what you saw after the shots? Did you see them kick him? Did you see someone standing on his shoulders? And did you see anybody try to render any aid?
Melvin Evans: (23:43)
What I saw was I saw that they went in handcuffs. After that, we left. We was getting out the parking lot.
Speaker 3: (23:53)
They handcuffed him while he was on the ground?
Melvin Evans: (23:54)
Speaker 5: (23:56)
You’re saying they handcuffed Mr. Brooks?
Melvin Evans: (24:01)
That’s what I saw. I don’t know if they were … They was over there by him. When we pulled out the lot, they was over there by him.
Speaker 6: (24:10)
What was your instinct when you heard those gunshots in the driver’s seat? Was it to leave, stay? What were you thinking?
Melvin Evans: (24:18)
He sat up, pull out the … We in the truck, fussing at each other. There wasn’t really no fussing, but he was like, “Man, let’s go. Man, pull out.” I’m like, “Man, I’m not fixing to going to go nowhere with this man with this gun in his hand. I ain’t fixing to go nowhere.” They right there by us. We already nervous, shocked, all that. And I probably would’ve ran over them. They was that close. They probably would have thought that we was going to use the vehicle to hit them or something and fire shots at us. I said, “We ain’t going nowhere.” That’s how I seen him put that gun up and go do what he do.
Speaker 6: (25:00)
So how did you eventually get off of the lot? Did you wait until [inaudible 00:25:04].
Melvin Evans: (25:05)
We backed up away from around them and just pulled out.
Speaker 5: (25:09)
Are you going to rap about this?
Melvin Evans: (25:17)
Right now, I don’t even really want to talk about it right now. I’m devastated.
Attorney Williams: (25:26)
Thanks everybody for your coming today. And once again, we’re just sending our prayers out to the Brooks family. Thank you.