The chain of events that led to the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police on June 12 could have looked very different. Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, had fallen asleep in his car in a fast food restaurant’s drive-through. A restaurant worker called 911, and two white officers responded; about 30 minutes later, after determining that Brooks was intoxicated, the police attempted to arrest him. A struggle ensued, and Brooks was shot twice after he grabbed one officer’s taser and ran away. In the aftermath, a wave of demonstrations gripped the city, Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned, and one of the police officers has been charged with murder.
What if that 911 call had summoned a pair of unarmed crisis responders instead of police?