Relatives of a Houston man killed by a sergeant from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said his police-involved death was “unjustified and unnecessary.” The family further believes the penalty of his death was not worth the crime, and that the man was treated by law enforcement “worse than an animal” because of his race.
Roderick Brooks’ bereaved loved ones confronted the authorities on the night of his death about the circumstances surrounding his premature demise in Westfield. They claimed that one of the county’s finest used excessive force when encountering Brooks, reports Houston Chronicle.
On Friday, July 8, around 6:30 p.m., Sgt. G. Hardin tasered and shot Brooks in the neck after he was reportedly involved in a shoplifting-related assault at a Dollar General, located at 2004 West FM 1960, earlier in the day. A police statement said Hardin shot the 47-year-old because he reached and grabbed his Taser when the officer tried to detain him.
The officer, who has been on the force for 20 years, has been placed on a mandatory administrative leave while the County conducts a full investigation of the fatal shooting.
Part of the investigation will include a cell phone video shot by a witness that captured what happened after Brooks was shot in the gas station parking lot in the 15500 block of Kuykendahl, ABC 13 reports.
Sources say the cell phone video shows Hardin on top of Brooks while he is lying motionless on the ground.
The HCSO said the agency has “no comment on cell phone video at this time, as investigators from multiple agencies are reviewing all evidence including both external and internal media.”
However, the office did note it was trying to collect all the videos of the incident, including surveillance footage from local businesses, the aforementioned cell phone and the sergeant’s body camera video.
HSCO plans to release the bodycam video to the public.
Brook’s sister Demetria Brooks Glaze doesn’t believe the sheriff officer’s account and is asking for transparency from the force. He believes her brother was a victim of racially biased policing.
Brooks Glaze said, “For the city and the state to allow this type of … racism, I’ve never seen anything like this. My brother was treated worse than an animal. Shoplifting does not warrant killing a man.”
Sadiyah Evangelista, the family’s lawyer, said Brooks was indeed shoplifting household goods before encountering Hardin.
According to KHOU, Evangelista said, “He was, in fact, shoplifting shampoo soap and he left the store.”
Hardin allegedly saw Brooks and started chasing the suspect in his police cruiser. Eventually, the sergeant exited the patrol vehicle without putting it in park and pursued him on foot, the lawyer said bystanders told her.
The witness also told the attorney that once Brooks was Tased by the officer and left incapacitated by the stun gun, Hardin jumped on his back and “pulverized (him) with punches.”
The family and their legal representative believe that Brooks tried to defend himself from the “onslaught of punches” he was receiving from Hardin. This theory differs from the sheriff’s department, which says the suspect tried to grab the cop’s Taser.
“Roderick Brooks was face down with his hands behind his back, believing he was going to be tased again, and defending an onslaught of punches the officer took his weapon and we know the end of this story,” she said. “[He] shot him in his neck and instantly killed him,” said Evangelista. “This is a human being who did not deserve to be murdered like some animal in the street.”
When addressing Hardin, the lawyer questioned why “he would abandon his unit. He would run after him, someone who was shoplifting and call out a racial slur, use excessive force when he had already subdued him.”
Another person who had a response to Hardin’s conduct was a community activist, Deric Muhammad, who said the sergeant “abandoned all of his general orders.”
“The problem is that racist policing is alive and well in the United States of America,” Muhammad said. “I believe that Roderick Brooks was a victim of racist policing. (Hardin) was so hellbent on hog-tying this Black man that he abandoned all of his general orders.”
On Tuesday, July 12, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez took to social media to send a personal message of condolences to the family.
He tweeted, “Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Brooks. We are committed to a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation. We take every incident involving the loss of life extremely serious,” he continued.