The private funeral for Rayshard Brooks was scheduled to take place Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta at the historic church where The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. Brooks, who was killed after being shot in the back by a police officer earlier this month, will be laid to rest following the private funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The funeral comes nearly two weeks after Brooks’ high-profile killing in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant, where the 27-year-old was found sleeping in a drive-thru lane. After police say he failed a field sobriety test, Brooks fled as he was being handcuffed for a nonviolent criminal allegation on the night of June 12. As Brooks was running away, now-fired Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe not only took aim and fired at Brooks back but he also allegedly rejoiced by saying “I got him!” before waking over and kicking Brooks’ body.
“Rayshard Brooks wasn’t just running from the police. He was running from a system that makes slaves out of people,” Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, is expected to say during the funeral, according to a report by the Associated Press. “A system that doesn’t give ordinary people who’ve made mistakes a second chance, a real shot at redemption.”
Rolfe was hit with 11 criminal charges, including felony murder, for his role in Brooks’ shooting. The other cop, Devin Brosnan, was charged with aggravated assault (and two other felonies) for allegedly stepping on Brooks’ shoulder.
The funeral comes one day after Ebenezer Baptist Church hosted a public viewing where hundreds came to pay their respects.
Brooks’ police killing came in the middle of nationwide protests against racism, police violence and the often deadly combination of the two.
Individuals and organizations have been rallying around his loved ones as they mourn his loss and seek justice. That includes entrepreneur Aisha “Pinky” Cole —founder of the Atlanta-based restaurant Slutty Vegan—who teamed up with Clark Atlanta University for the creation of a scholarship fund for Brooks’ four children.
The fund—which will provide over $600,000 to help Brooks’ three daughters and son—will cover the costs of tuition and room and board. Cole—who has continually used her business as a vessel to drive community impact—says she was compelled to help Brooks’ loved ones after witnessing the pain they endured following his murder. “When you lose someone so close to you, there is a level of momentum that is lost because a piece of you is gone,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I saw Rayshard’s wife Tomika’s pain, and my heart led me to want to help her and her children … I wanted to remind her that it takes a village and we are a part of her village.” Cole is an alumna of Clark Atlanta University.
Brooks’ funeral is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.
The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock comforts Tomika Miller, the wife of Rayshard Brooks, during his public viewing at Ebenezer Baptist Church, June 22, 2020, in Atlanta.
Pallbearers bring the remains of Rayshard Brooks into the Ebenezer Baptist Church for his viewing on June 22, 2020, in Atlanta.