MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two West Memphis men who witnessed the shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta spoke Thursday about being caught in a tragedy they never imagined.
Michael Perkins and Melvin Evans pulled into the Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta last week. The West Memphis men, who say they are rappers, were in the city to shoot a video with Rapper Pastor Troy when they stopped to get something to eat.
“I wasn’t even here for a brief moment. We just literally got here,” Perkins said.
They rolled up on 27-year-old Brooks and police officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan on the ground, fighting.
“So, I am like okay, they wrestling with this man and the cops telling him stop fighting, stop resisting,” Perkins said, “and I am just back there saying, but I didn’t know what was gonna happen.”
They watched as Brooks grabbed an officer’s stun gun and started running.
Surveillance video shows Brooks pointing the laser toward the officers as he ran away; three gunshots were then fired by Rolfe.
Two of them hit Brooks in the back, killing him.
“I feel like it was awful,” Perkins said. “The whole situation was awful. I ain’t never witnessed a day like this in my life.”
The men say they hit the floor when they heard the shots. Evans was driving.
“He was like, man let’s go. Pull off. I am like, I am not fixing to go nowhere with this man with a gun in his hand,” Evans said.
They later learned how close they actually were to danger. The third bullet apparently landed in Evans’s truck.
“He just bought that vehicle recently, and he knows how his vehicle looks,” Perkins said. “He is like, what’s that? When we went back to the video and stuff, they said he got hit two times. We heard three shots. That’s what made us say that third shot in that car, man.”
It’s taken an emotional toll.
“Murders happen like water in Memphis. Memphis tough,” Perkins said. “For us to come here where we are trying to conquer our dreams, try to get away from the negativity, for us to go through that, it kinda, it made me feel some type of way. And like the timing, this is the last thing I expected. I promise.”
An attorney representing all three witnesses said that one of the officer’s bullets only narrowly missed his clients as they sat in their vehicle in a Wendy’s parking lot June 12.
Former officer Garrett Rolfe is charged with 11 criminal charges, including murder.
“Officer Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks while he laid on the ground there fighting for his life,” said Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.
Another officer, Devin Brosnan, faces three charges, including aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brooks’ shoulders.