The city of Atlanta agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the widow and the estate of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer in 2020. The death touched off nationwide protests. The City Council’s unanimous vote came nearly three months after prosecutors determined that the two officers involved in the episode committed no crimes on June 12, 2020, when Brooks, 27, was shot by one of the officers in a Wendy’s parking lot. The Council also found that the use of deadly force had been reasonable, reports the New York Times. Lawyers for Brooks’s family said that “although the children of Mr. Brooks have lost their father, settling the case will undoubtedly assist them with future plans as they come of age.”
Councilman Dustin Hillis said at a Council meeting on Monday that the city attorney had determined that “the city of Atlanta’s potential financial exposure in defending plaintiff’s claims is in excess of the settlement amount.” The family’s wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the killing of Brooks was “senseless and unjustified,” and that the city had violated his civil rights. Brooks was killed a few weeks after a police officer in Minneapolis murdered George Floyd. The Atlanta killing prompted new rounds of street demonstrations and became part of the national debate about police treatment of Blacks. Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-through lane at Wendy’s on June 12, 2020. At first, the encounter between him and officers was calm. After 40 minutes, the episode turned violent when the officers moved to arrest him. Brooks hit one officer, grabbed the other’s Taser, fired it and took off running. Officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with murder and 10 other criminal counts and a second officer, Devin Brosnan, faced lesser charges. Prosecutors announced in August that they would drop all charges. Rolfe was fired the day after the shooting, but reinstated in May 2021 by the city’s Civil Service Review Board.