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Former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino lamented the deadly use of force by Atlanta police officers on Friday but noted they were only presented with “a bad and worse option.”
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), police responded to a complaint about a male “parked in the drive thru” at a Wendy’s “asleep, causing other customers to drive around the vehicle.” The report said police had the man perform a field sobriety test, which he did not pass.
At that point, officers attempted to take the man, later identified as 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, who is black, into custody. He “resisted and a struggle ensued,” which led to an officer attempt to use a taser. Brooks “grabbed and was in possession of” the taser.
In a subsequent follow-up to its original statement and report, the GBI affirmed: “new videos indicate that during a physical struggle with officers, Brooks obtained one of the officer’s Tasers and began to flee from the scene.”
“Officers pursued Brooks on food and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks,” said the GBI report.
The incident sparked new protests in Atlanta, as rioters torched the Wendy’s restaurant.
In an interview Sunday morning with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” Bongino noted how unfortunate it is whenever someone loses their life during an encounter with police, but that, based on what’s known thus far, the actions that Brooks initiated left officers with little choice but to defend themselves.
“Obviously, a man died and that’s tragic. Nobody wants to see that, whether it’s the police side, the community side, anywhere,” Bongino began. “Having said that I always ask the question, when it comes to law enforcement issues for the people who are, sadly, ignorant of them, many who haven’t lived in the shoes of a law enforcement officer themselves, ‘Well, what would you do? What’s your suggestion?’”
After having failed a field sobriety test, Bongino noted that it’s not feasible or even desirable to allow the suspect to simply get back in his car and drive away drunk.
“So you have to arrest him, okay? And clearly, the subject does not want to be arrested,” the former NYPD officer continued. “Okay, so let’s walk through… ‘What do you do?’ Well, again, we can’t let him get back in the car, so we have to arrest him using force.
“Keep in mind…not force the police officers wanted. They didn’t initiate this, the subject did. Okay, so what do you do then, he punches you in the face? Oh, clearly, we just walk away then,” Bongino said sarcastically.
“This is not a good or bad,” Bongino said. “It’s all bad. The guy died. It’s bad. This is ‘what’s the bad or worse choice.’ And the bad choice was to have to engage in a use of force with this individual who pointed a taser back at a law enforcement officer he had just punched in the face. Okay? It wasn’t a good option to have to engage with your firearm. There were no good options. He’s dead. There was a bad or a worse option, and the worse option is to let this subject continue to engage in use of force against them without stopping the episode.
“Make no mistake, the use of force was controlled by one person: The individual who resisted arrest, stole the weapon, ran away, and then pointed it at the officers, which is clear on the video,” Bongino said.
He added that while some will likely criticize his point of view on the incident in Atlanta, he “was one of the first people on this network calling out the episode with George Floyd as a grotesque abuse of force, and I’ll continue to do so, and so will the good cops out there,” a reference to the Minneapolis man who died at the hands of police last month.
Bongino also ripped Atlanta city officials for firing the officer involved in the shooting while placing his partner on administrative leave before completing an investigation into the incident. Chief Ericka Shields also resigned late Friday following the incident.
Local TV station WXIA obtained police bodycam footage of the incident.
**Warning: Graphic content
Bongino noted further that subjects who are armed with tasers do present a potentially life-threatening risk to officers, which justified the use of lethal force in this case.
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