Sheriff Alonzo Williams from Burke County, Georgia was interviewed by CNN after the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man who was shot by police in a Wendy’s parking lot.
After failing a sobriety test, Brooks resisted arrest, scuffled with officers, stole an officer’s stun gun, and attempted to flee. As he ran, he pointed and allegedly fired the stolen taser in Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe’s direction, causing him to open fire.
Brooks died from two gunshots wounds, and his death sparked an arson, protests, an investigation, and the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, but according to Sheriff Alonzo Williams, Officer Rolfe was “completely justified” in using lethal force.
When asked by CNN anchor Brianna Keilar whether racism played a part in the Brooks shooting, the sheriff completely schooled the anchor and her viewers. “There’s nothing malicious or sadistic in the way these officers behaved,” he declared.
Speaking from a position of experience and authority, having been head of three law enforcement agencies, Williams forcefully defended the officer as he was interviewed about “over-policing and racial discrimination in the U.S.,” Fox News reported. “This is the third law enforcement agency I’ve been head of,” Williams, who is black, told CNN. “Every agency I’ve gone to, I’ve required every officer who carries a Taser to be Tased with it, so that you understand the incapacitation,” he added.
“Five seconds: 1,001, 1,002, 1,003, 1,004, 1,005. That’s five whole seconds [when] if an officer is hit with that Taser that he, all of his muscles will be locked up, and he’ll have the inability to move and to respond. And, yet, he is still responsible for every weapon on his belt,” Williams continued, making it clear that Brooks was a huge threat to the officer’s safety.
Those precious 5 seconds give a perpetrator ample opportunity to assault the office further and take his weapon. Further describing the danger Officer Rolfe was in, Sheriff Williams explained, “So, if that officer had been hit, he still has a firearm on his side and the likelihood of him being stomped in the head or having his firearm taken and used against him was a probability. And so, he did what he needed to do. And, this was a completely justified shooting.”
When Keilar clarified Williams’ remarks, asking, “So you think lethal force here was necessary?” the sheriff left no doubt where he stood on the matter, arguing that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution allowed that type of force. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. seemingly disagreed, however, as he announced on Wednesday that now-former Officer Rolfe will face felony murder charges and could face the death penalty in the fatal shooting.
“It’s very unfortunate that the law enforcement leaders in the state of Georgia have not come out and stood together on this case,” Williams said. “I think it’s political and it’s senseless,” he continued, before adding a warning. “We’re sending the wrong message to our black youth. We’re telling them that it’s OK, that they can run from the police, that they can take a weapon from the police, they can fight with the police, and point their weapon at the police, and expect nothing to happen. That is the wrong message to send to black youth.”
Unsatisfied with the sheriff’s sentiments, Keilar pressed Williams on the issue of race and tried her very best to goad him into labeling the officer a racist. Williams, to his credit, wasn’t having any of it. “One of the things that struck me, observing,” Keilar said, “was how quickly at close range one of the officers pulled a taser out.” Then, she got to her point, asking, “Do you think that that officer would have pulled a taser so quickly on a suspect if they were white?”
“I think we have a serious issue in this country with officers, law enforcement officers using force against black persons or persons of color versus other persons. I’m not sure exactly why that exists. I think it’s based on your experiences, based on your ignorance, based on your — whether or not you’re learned, based on movies, television, media,” Williams answered. “You know, there’s a little bit of blame to go around with all of us.”
Seemingly unsatisfied, Keilar tried again. “I just want to zero in on this,” she said, talking over Williams. “It sounds like you don’t know, like — it sounds like you are saying perhaps, there could be a possibility that maybe — that escalation to the use of the taser might not have happened then if it were a white man?”
“I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying what happened in the Brooks’ case is completely justified, 100 percent,” Williams declared before schooling the CNN anchor further. “An officer generally goes to work every day, he’s not concerned about whether a perpetrator is black or white. He’s there to do a job,” he said.
“All officers know this, Brianna, that when one cuff goes on, a person is going to do one of three things. He’s going to fight, take flight, or he’s going to comply,” Williams added. “In this case, he did fight and flight. And we — they’re taught in the academy that you arrest or you handcuff quickly, one to two seconds. If not, your life is in jeopardy. And, that played out in this scenario,” he continued.
“We don’t want to fight with anybody, we don’t want to be on the ground,” Williams told the CNN host. “The suspect had the ability to hurt the officer, he had the opportunity to hurt the officer because he took his taser. The officer’s life was certainly in jeopardy, and the suspect could have complied and none of this would have happened.”
True, this had nothing to do with skin color at all, and it’s about time someone set the race-baiting media straight.