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Lesson Plans

Atlanta shooting of Rayshard Brooks

June 16, 2020

Full Lesson



Directions: Read the summary and key terms, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. This video has been edited for length. To watch the full video and read the transcription, click here.

Summary: Weeks after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police sparked still-continuing international protests, another black man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by police in Atlanta on June 12. According to police, Brooks was asleep in a Wendy’s drive-thru and failed a sobriety test before he was arrested. When police tried to restrain him, he resisted arrest, stole a Taser from an officer and pointed it at him while fleeing before the officer fatally shot him, police say. The encounter was caught on surveillance video which has been released to the public. The offending officer has since been fired, and Atlanta’s police chief has stepped down following the shooting.

  • Police officers are trained that a Taser is a nonlethal weapon.
  • Before shooting Brooks, police officers searched him and found he was unarmed.
  • Lethal force is only necessary if a police officer’s life, or the life of a citizen, is truly threatened, according to Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans.
  • According to Morial, the “Reimagination-Restructuring Movement” calls for the scope of police power to be reexamined and narrowed. For example, he says, we must consider whether it’s appropriate for armed police to respond to issues of homelessness or mental health crises. 

Key Terms: 

Justice in Policing Act →  a bill drafted by Democrats in the U.S. Congress on June 8, 2020, that aims to decrease racial bias, excessive force and misconduct in policing.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: How can the policing system in the U.S. better fit the needs and safety of the public?
  2. Make a list of all the jobs that police do (for example, in the video Marc Morial mentions that police are called to respond to issues of homelessness).
    • Look at each of these jobs. Are the police the best possible agency to perform this job? Why or why not? If not, could you imagine another agency or organization that could perform the job better? What would that ideal organization look like?
  3. Stories about police violence can be hard to listen to. Who is a trusted adult you can talk with, if you need to? If you’re not sure, ask your teacher.
  4. Media literacy: How often do you see or hear about videos of police killing black men on the news or social media? How might this affect what you consider to be normal? How might this have affected the way you reacted to the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks?

Extension Activity: A deeper look at the Justice in Policing Act

Read this article to learn more about what’s in the proposed Justice in Policing Act and who supports it. 

  1. Do you think the Justice in Policing Act would be effective in reducing police violence and misconduct? Why or why not? If you think it’s effective, what provisions in the Act are most important?
  2. What would you add to the Act to make it more effective? Discuss with your teacher and your class. If you feel strongly, contact your state’s representatives in Congress to tell them about your ideas.
  3. If you have time, click here to read the full text of the Act—try using the search function (command – F) on your computer to search for instances of words or phrases in the text.

Today’s Daily News Story was written by EXTRA’s intern Carolyn McCusker, a senior at Amherst College.

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