Rayshard Brooks will be buried Tuesday (June 23), 11 days after he was killed by an Atlanta police officer during an encounter witnessed by two Memphis rappers in the ATL to “conquer our dreams not to witness a murder.”
Mike Perkins – aka “Mike Peezy” – and Melvin Evans, whose stage name is “2-Turnt Jizzle,” had traveled to Atlanta to film a music video with rapper Pastor Troy.
“We’re from Memphis and we came to Atlanta to conquer our dreams not to witness a murder,” Perkins said at Friday (June 18) press conference in Atlanta in the law office of Shean Williams. “Memphis is tough, but I never seen anything like this.”
After leaving a recording studio last Friday night (June 12), Perkins, Evans and a third person drove to a nearby Wendy’s. While in the drive-thru lane waiting to place their order, police responded to a call that a man was asleep behind the wheel of his car and holding up the customer traffic flow.
Forty-plus minutes later and following a field sobriety test given Brooks, Officer Garrett Rolfe fatally shot him in the back after Brooks fired a Taser in his direction while running away after a struggle with officers. Rolfe, 27, is White. Brooks, 27, was Black.
Rolfe was fired and another officer, 26-year-old Devin Brosnan, was placed on desk duty following the shooting. Police Chief Erika Shields stepped down less than 24 hours after Brooks died. Rolfe faces 11 charges, including felony murder.
Brosnan, who the prosecutor said stood on Brooks’ shoulder as he struggled for his life, is charged with aggravated assault and violating his oath. Lawyers for both men said their clients’ actions were justified.
“I called it,” said Perkins. “It was nighttime. We weren’t in the lot maybe three minutes before all of this occurred. I heard all the tussling and (officers saying) ‘stop resisting, stop fighting’ and I said, ‘This man fixin’ to kill this man out here. I ain’t know what color he was or nothin’.”
Perkins said they were in the last car in the line at the time and that the situation occurred ahead of them.
“He (Brooks) started running toward our vehicle. When I seen him running, I heard the tasers or whatever, and when I heard them shots my first reaction was to duck. I was up under the seat, in the back seat ducking.”
Evans was the driver. Brooks was killed about 10 feet from Evans’ recently-purchased Chevrolet Trailblazer. One of the bullets fired by Rolfe hit the vehicle on the passenger side, a fact not discovered until they left the parking lot and went back to the studio where they were working.
“Right after the shooting, Perkins was telling me to drive away immediately,” said Evans, who decided to stay put.
“We already nervous, shocked, all that. I probably would have ran over them,” he said. “They were that close and they probably would have thought that we were going to use the vehicle to hit them or something and fired shots at us. So I said, ‘we ain’t going nowhere.’”
Evans said he backed out of the parking lot once he saw Rolfe put his gun back in his holster.
“I thought it just wasn’t necessary,” Perkins said of the shooting. “The whole situation was awful.”
The shooting happened against the backdrop of nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into his neck and held it there for eight-plus minutes.
Asked to amplify on his “called it” statement, Perkins said, “It was just what I felt like was going to happen because this is what’s been happening lately. These cops been killing people. …I was really just saying something but I didn’t know it was going to happen. …But it actually happened….”
A public viewing for Brooks is to be held today (June 22) from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s congregation. The church is also set to host Brooks’ funeral on Tuesday.
(This story includes reporting from the Associated Press.)