Mourners bid farewell to Rayshard Brooks at historic church

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Scores of mourners have gathered at a historic Atlanta church for the funeral of a black man whose killing by police at a fast-food restaurant led to protests across the US against racial injustice.

“We are here because individuals continue to hide behind badges and trainings and policies and procedures rather than regarding the humanity of others in general and Black lives specifically,” the Rev Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, said at the private service at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

She noted ruefully that the killing took place in Atlanta, the “black mecca” and “the city that is supposed to be `too busy to hate’”.

Police Shooting Atlanta
Tomika Miller weeps over her husband Rayshard Brooks (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Among those at the service were Mr Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller; Stacey Abrams, the former state politician who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; and Jon Ossoff, a young Georgia media executive who broke fundraising records during an unsuccessful 2017 run for Congress, was also seen.

Some mourners wore T-shirts with Mr Brooks’ picture. Nearly everyone wore masks against coronavirus.

Mr Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back June 12 by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru.

Police Shooting-Atlanta
Family members and friends wear all white(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Rolfe, 27, was charged with murder and jailed without bail. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was charged with aggravated assault, accused of stepping on Mr Brooks’ shoulder as he lay dying on the pavement. Lawyers for both men said their clients’ actions were justified.

The killing unfolded amid protests and scattered violence set off around the country by the case of George Floyd, the black man who was pronounced dead May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer put his knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes.

Atlanta’s police chief stepped down less than 24 hours after Mr Brooks’ death, and the Wendy’s was burned by protesters.

While Mr Brooks was not a member of Ebenezer Baptist, the church where Mr King preached is a “sanctuary for those who suffer”, the Rev Raphael Warnock, senior pastor said in a statement announcing the funeral plans.

Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry offered financial help for the service, according to the statement.

An afternoon bail hearing for Rolfe that would have conflicted with the funeral was cancelled by a judge. Under the law, crime victims and their families are entitled to be heard at such proceedings.

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