Substance Use Has Too Long Been Used as a Cover for this Kind of Degradation and Death Towards Black and Brown People
Washington, D.C. – In response to appalling new details revealed by D.A. Howard yesterday in the killing of Rayshard Brooks—that following him being shot, he was kicked by Officer Rolfe while Officer Branson stood on his shoulders and neither one of them provided medical assistance, Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:
“The disturbing details revealed by D.A. Howard yesterday about the degradation Rayshard Brooks suffered through after being shot by Officer Rolfe—who just five years prior had tried to cover up the shooting of another black man, and who just recently had completed de-escalation and use of force trainings—confirm just how critical it is that Congress pass a policing bill that actually creates meaningful reform and accountability.
Someone sleeping in their car, whether intoxicated or not, should not end up dead after an encounter with law enforcement. Especially when they’ve complied with officers' directions and remained calm for 41 minutes, as Brooks did. For far too long, the drug war has given police an all-too-convenient cover to use substance use as an excuse to target, assault and kill Black, Latinx and Native American people.
This underscores the need to have non-armed professionals, who work completely outside of the harmful law enforcement apparatus, responding to these calls. These people can provide necessary harm reduction and other health services. Law enforcement response here is inappropriate, and in this case, proved fatal. The only bill that even begins to address reform and police officer accountability is the Justice in Policing Act. We call on Congress to strengthen this bill and construct a legislative measure that meets the moment.”