An unarmed Black man accused of shoplifting a detergent at a Dollar Store was fatally shot by a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy who responded to the scene after authorities were notified about the alleged theft.
According to ABC13, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said the fatal July 8 encounter occurred after an employee at the store called them to report a shoplifting incident. The worker claimed that Roderick Brooks had struck her as he exited the store with the shoplifted items.
The Sheriff’s Office released body camera footage of the incident over the weekend. In the footage, HCSO Sgt. Garrett Hardin is seen chasing Brooks before he discharges his Taser on him. The deputy manages to catch up with Brooks and pins him to the ground.
“Why did you tase me?” Brooks is heard asking Hardin. “Please get off me, man.”
A struggle between the two then ensues, and Brooks is seen taking hold of Hardin’s Taser. “I am going to shoot you. Put that down! I will (explicit) shoot you!” the deputy says before he fatally shoots Brooks in the back of the neck.
And though body camera footage of the fatal encounter was ultimately released, the deceased Black man’s family said the footage that was made public had been edited as what was initially shown to them was different, KHOU 11 reported. Brooks’ family claims the video that has been made public has been zoomed in to not show Hardin punching Brooks during the confrontation. They also claim the periphery of the shooting is cut out.
“Ray Charles could see that it had been edited,” community activist Deric Muhammad said.
“They even edited it 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,” Sadiyah Evangelista-Karriem, who is the family attorney for Brooks’ family, also told ABC13.
“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,” Evangelista-Karriem added.
And although the sheriff’s office said Brooks grabbed Hardin’s Taser after the sergeant lost it during the struggle, the deceased Black man’s family also said he did not pose a threat.
“The Taser was never pointed in his direction,” Evangelista-Karriem told KHOU 11. “The taser had already been deployed. There was no finger on the trigger for Roderick Brooks and, in fact, Roderick Brooks was scooting it under his body.”
Brooks’ family has since asked the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Department of Justice to take over the investigation into his death, claiming that they don’t have confidence in the investigation initiated by the sheriff’s office.
Evangelista-Karriem on Tuesday said the family intends to file a lawsuit. The family is also calling for the sergeant to be relieved of his duties.