Trump says police ‘not treated fairly’ after latest race shooting

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON : US President Donald Trump said the police have "not been treated fairly" and appeared to defend a white officer charged with the murder of a black man.

Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with murder on Wednesday for shooting African American Rayshard Brooks in the back, and aggravated the case by kicking the 27-year-old as he lay on the ground bleeding.

The death of Mr Brooks came less than three weeks after George Floyd died while being pinned down by Minneapolis police officers, fuelling a national uproar and anti-police brutality protests across the country.

"I thought it was a terrible situation, but you can't resist a police officer," the US president said of Mr Brooks' death in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. "I hope he gets a fair shake because the police have not been treated fairly in our country.

"But, again, you can't resist a police officer like that. And they ended up in a very terrible disagreement and look at the way it ended. Very bad. Very bad."

On Tuesday, Mr Trump issued an order to improve policing - calling for a ban on dangerous chokeholds - but he has stopped well short of demands made at nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Critics, including the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, have derided his efforts.

Mr Brooks, a 27-year-old father-of-three, "never presented himself as a threat" and showed no aggressive behaviour towards the two white officers involved in the confrontation last Friday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told a news conference.

Rolfe, 27, faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted, Mr Howard added.

Devin Brosnan, 26, the other officer at the scene, was charged with aggravated assault and violations of his oath of office, Mr Howard added.

Brosnan, placed on administrative duty after the shooting, has given statements to investigators supporting the charges against Rolfe and will cooperate with prosecutors, Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard said both men had agreed to surrender to the authorities.

Brosnan's role as a cooperating witness against a fellow officer is rare in such investigations, Mr Howard said.

Mr Brooks' family welcomed the charges. His widow, Ms Tomika Miller, told reporters: "I am really hurt, and all I can think about is what if my husband was still here." - AFP, REUTERS