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President Donald Trump weighed into the controversy surrounding the police killing of 27-year-old Black man Rayshard Brooks by boosting a conspiracy theory that the victim was armed, and suggesting the cop was justified in shooting Brooks twice in the back because “you can’t resist an officer.”
Trump was speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, hours after the officer who shot Brooks in the car park of a Wendy’s in Atlanta on Friday was charged with felony murder and 10 other counts.
Garret Rolfe, who was fired on Sunday and is expected to give himself up to authorities on Thursday, was attempting to handcuff Brooks when he resisted, grabbing a Taser from the officer before running away. As Rolfe gave chase, Brooks pointed the Taser back towards the officer before Rolfe fired three shots at the 27-year-old father. Brooks was taken to hospital and operated on but died shortly afterward.
Trump told Hannity that it was a “terrible situation” but added that ”you can’t resist a police officer, and, you know if you have a disagreement, you have to take it up after the fact.”
Trump added: “It was a very sad — very, very sad — thing. You take a look, it was out of control. The whole situation was out of control.”
Then Trump veered into conspiracy theory territory when he told Hannity that he had just received a report about the shooting, which cited Rolfe’s attorney.
“The police officer’s lawyer said that he heard a sound like a gun, like a gunshot, and he saw a flash in front of him,” Trump said.
Video footage of the incident taken from the officer’s body cams and surveillance footage from Wendy’s shows clearly that Brooks was unarmed.
“So that’s an interesting — you know, don’t know that I would have necessarily believed that,” Trump said of the report he claimed to have seen. “But I will tell you, that’s a very interesting thing, and maybe that’s so. They’re gonna have to find out.”
On Wednesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard revealed during a press conference that Rolfe would have also been aware that the taser Brooks wrangled from him was not functional, as it had already been fired twice and thus was of no use.
Trump, who an executive order to outlaw chokeholds and create a nationwide database of police misconduct earlier this week, concluded by saying he hopes Rolfe will be treated “fairly” by the courts. He went on to claim the police, who have reacted to recent police brutality protests with shocking and well-documented violence, have been treated unfairly.
“It’s up to justice right now. It’s gonna be up to justice,” Trump said. “I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country. They have not been treated fairly.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks about the PREVENTS "President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide," task force, in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)