The family of Roderick Brooks is demanding answers from Texas authorities after Brooks was shot and killed by a Houston-area police officer in what officials claim was an act of self-defense.
Brooks, 47, was killed earlier this month by Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy Garrett Hardin, who chased the unarmed Black man after Brooks was accused of shoplifting laundry detergent from a Dollar General store. Officials claim Brooks also punched a store clerk as he left the building.
In body-camera footage released by the HCSO, Hardin is seen chasing Brooks before hitting him with a jolt from his stun gun and wrestling him to the ground. Brooks then grabs for the stun gun. After yelling, “I am going to shoot you. Put that down! I will fucking shoot you!” Hardin fires a single, fatal shot into the back of Brooks’s neck. (You can view the footage here.)
However, speaking with Houston’s ABC 13 station, Brooks’s family claimed they’d been shown a different cut of the footage and that the video released by the sheriff’s department was deceptively edited to focus on Brooks’s struggle for the Taser and downplay the “assault” on an incapacitated Brooks by Hardin.
“They even edited even further because they saw that there was punching in there. We saw that with our own eyes where the assault took place on Roderick Brooks,” family attorney Sadiyah Evangelista-Karriem told the station.
“We ask, ‘Who authorized the tape to be changed?’” Brooks’s sister Demetria Brooks-Glaze added. “If it’s evidence, why are we tampering with evidence? We need to see a clear picture of the bruises.”
In audio of the initial 911 call from the Dollar General employee who claimed Brooks had shoplifted, the clerk told dispatchers that Brooks had pushed her arm, and that she didn’t think he posed any immediate threat to officers. “I just want him to get arrested because he is literally running to the back of the building right now,” she explained.
While the body camera footage released by the HCSO does show Brooks grabbing for the officer’s Taser, Justin Moore, another Brooks family attorney, stressed that nothing caught on tape justified the officer to shoot and kill Brooks.
“The Taser issue is a red herring, and if you see the video, he grabs the Taser but he releases it multiple times,” Moore told HuffPost. “He never grabs it and points it at the officer. He tried to get it to stop electrocuting him.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Brooks had been recently released on bond from a separate shoplifting arrest at the time of his death, but had no violent history to speak of.
“My brother, he’s always been in and out of trouble — but he’s no murderer,” Brooks-Glaze told the paper. “He played a lot, sometimes too much, but he was for the family, like he always was. I got upset with him when he made the choices he made, but he will always be my brother.”
The family is reportedly planning to sue the Harris County Sheriff’s Office over Brooks’ death. Hardin, meanwhile, is on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.