Yahoo reports Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, and a current contender on former Vice President Joe Biden’s VP shortlist, said Monday the Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks over the weekend did not have to use deadly force.
“We saw Mr. Brooks break free and run with the Taser, but was the use of deadly force the only option that the officer had?” she said on ABC’s “The View.”
“Based on my 27 years of law enforcement experience — experience being an officer on the street, but also supervising and managing officers through the chain of command — I do not believe that the use of deadly force was the only option that this officer had,” she said.
Before being shot to death in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, Brooks had a cordial conversation about being in the area to visit his mother’s grave and to celebrate one of his young daughter’s birthdays, according to videos released by officials.
The shooting of Brooks, who is black, on Friday night prompted the immediate resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, the firing of the officer who shot and killed Brooks, and new protests and an arson fire at the Wendy’s where the confrontation started and then escalated into the use of lethal force.
It came on the heels of days of protests in Atlanta and across the nation over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Demings, who has risen to prominence after being elected to Congress in 2016, has served as a House impeachment manager during the Senate trial of President Donald Trump and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Last week, Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, and civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represents the Floyd family, testified before the committee in a hearing on policing reform.
Demings said on Monday that she is “totally committed to making sure” that George Floyd’s death is not in vain, as Philonise Floyd urged during his testimony. She also implored local communities to begin making changes now to current policing policies to prevent another incident like the one that took Floyd’s life.
“So, while I believe the federal government has a major role to play in setting some standards and guidelines, I also called on each law enforcement agency, I made a public appeal, to start looking within and change those policies that you can change now,” she said of the hearing.
“You don’t have to wait until we’re able to get this bill — the Justice and Policing Act — through the House and through the Senate. You can look at your policies right now, and change them right now starting with banning choke holds or neck restraints,” she added.