Protests quickly erupted after police gunned down a black man in North Carolina. Rumors were spurred online with accusations of racism hurled at the cops involved, but did race have anything to do with it? You decide.
David Brooks Jr, a 45-year-old North Carolina man, was walking near a Dollar General store in Roxboro on a Friday when he was shot and killed by police. Almost immediately after the officer-involved shooting, rumors spread online with the police officers accused of racism, and it wasn’t long until protests erupted.
An article from The Blaze featured a since-deleted tweet that said Brooks was simply “walking home from the Dollar General in a small town called Roxboro and they [the police] shot him.” Another said Brooks was “slain in the streets of Roxboro by the Roxboro Police Department” and “shot in the back multiple times.”
The police told a different story, however, saying they encountered Brooks while responding to a report of a man walking down the street with what looked like a shotgun. Within six minutes, Brooks was dead after being shot by officers, who recovered a loaded sawed-off shotgun at the scene. It seemed, however, that Brooks’ family didn’t want to believe that he could have done anything wrong.
With no police injured during the altercation and none of the responding officers having body cameras, Tanillya Partridge, a cousin of Brooks was outraged by the incident, and she had a message for the police department. “You shoot my cousin in the street like a dog. We want justice,” she said through tears. “We are not going to stop until we get justice for David Brooks because he never hurt anybody.”
Partridge wasn’t the only one in disbelief and outraged over the actions of the police. John Tucker III, another cousin of Brooks, disputed law enforcement’s account of the incident in a statement to WRAL. Although Tucker admitted that Brooks was known to carry a gun, he said Brooks wouldn’t use it in a violent way.
“He walked the road every day. He don’t bother anybody. He don’t start no trouble or nothing,” Tucker explained. “He probably had one of those guns he had on his chest. It was visible. He wouldn’t hurt nobody, though,” he said. “I just don’t believe that he would do anything for them to take it this far,” Tucker added. “He ain’t going to fight against authority. He already knows he can’t win, [so] why would he do that?”
As accusations of racism were leveled at the officers, often based on rumors, it wasn’t long before protests erupted and protesters with Molotov cocktails and incendiary devices were arrested, CBS 17 reported. “We want justice. We want honesty,” said Vee Monique, a protest organizer. “We understand that the people that are in office, that are in the police department, are in cahoots, so we might have to take this over their heads, if possible.”
Members of the Black Panthers marched to the spot where Brooks was killed by police. As his family demanded the officer be fired, his brother told a WNCN reporter that Brooks had been a “cadet” in the Black Panthers. In order to quell some of the criticism, police released the dashcam video of the incident, and it paints a much different picture than the one presented by Brooks’ family.
According to police, David Brooks Jr was only shot once through the chest after he pointed the sawed-off shotgun at them, and officers immediately rendered aid. The dashcam video, which protesters demanded, corroborates their account. In the footage, police attempt to talk to Brooks, who appeared to raise his gun and point at them. Then, only one shot is seen striking Brooks before he falls to the ground and officers rush to his side.
Sadly, when the facts are later released in incidents like this, those stories rarely get the same amount of attention as the gossip and rumors that circulated prior, leading to an anti-police mentality among some members of the public. Anyone who can watch the video above and think that this wasn’t a justified shooting is in serious denial, and I’d like to ask what they’d do if someone pointed a sawed-off shotgun — which is not a legal weapon in North Carolina — at them.