Justin Timberlake has spoken out on the death of Rayshard Brooks by taking to social media to share a heartbreaking family photo of the man killed by Atlanta police on June 12. On his Instagram page, Timberlake posted a photo of 27-year-old Brooks in the hospital holding one of his newborn children.
"As a dad, this photo hurts," Timberlake wrote, then going on to point out that Brooks "was a father of three girls" ranging in age from 1 year old, 2 years old, and 8 years old. "He should not be dead," the singer proclaimed. He also included the names of three other "innocent people [who] became victims of racism, violence, and intolerance:" Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and Robert Fuller. Timberlake also added that "we’re still waiting for Justice for Breonna Taylor. "I'm heartbroken for their families and for this country," he wrote. "The system needs to change... it has repeatedly shown us that Black people in America are not safe. I’ll follow up with more resources and ways to help." Timberlake concluded his post by including a hashtag for "Black Lives Matter."
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Brooks was killed by Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe, who is white, after resisting arrest over a failed field sobriety test. Brooks was found asleep in his car in a Wendy's parking lot, and officers were called to investigate. Upon arriving and waking Brooks up, the officers gave him a field sobriety test and decided to take him into custody when he did not pass. Brooks struggles with the officers, and reportedly took one of their Tasers as he began to run away.
Rolfe fired on Brooks, hitting him twice in the back. He was taken into emergency surgery, but ultimately died of organ injuries and blood loss. The incident was caught on camera. The day following Brooks' death, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned from her position. Both officers involved were suspended, and on Sunday morning, Rolfe was fired. The Fulton County medical examiner has since ruled Brooks' death a homicide. This has reportedly prompted Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to consider bringing felony murder charges against Rolfe.
Brooks' death sparked a new wave of protests and civil unrest, that had already been sweeping the nation over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died after former officer Derick Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest on May 25. His death was also ruled a homicide, with Chauvin being charged with second-degree murder.