As the already fiery debate about law enforcement in the U.S. is further fueled by the killing of a Black man fleeing from two white officers in Atlanta on Friday night, a term commonly known in police circles is likely to enter the mainstream: "lawful but awful."
That’s the phrase police apply to killings that may be technically legal but could have been avoided.
Surveillance video shows 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was running away after resisting arrest in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant when he was shot by officer Garrett Rolfe, who was fired Sunday. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday that Brooks died of two gunshot wounds to his back and ruled the death a homicide.
After being questioned for falling asleep in his car in the restaurant's drive-thru line, Brooks had wrestled with the police when they tried to handcuff him and took officer Devin Brosnan’s Taser, firing it once at Rolfe as he pursued with his own Taser in hand.
Was shooting Brooks the best practice in that confrontation? Three experts consulted by USA TODAY said there were better options.
Kalfani Ture, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, served as a police officer in the Atlanta metropolitan area for five years. Ture said the Atlanta Police Department is highly regarded for its training, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Sunday that Rolfe had taken a nine-hour course on deescalation alternatives in late April.