ATLANTA - Retired Dekalb County Police Major K.D. Johnson said there are a lot of quick decisions an officer must make when a person they're arresting starts to resist. In the case of the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, he told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner he understands why now-former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe opened fire.
"It's not as clear cut as people think it is. What I see is a gentleman running from police and he turns around and discharges a Taser," Johnson said.
Based on police training standards in Georgia, Johnson believes the officers responded accordingly when Brooks resisted arrest. He said the officer had a right to defend himself when he heard and saw Brooks deploy the Taser taken from the officer.
"That's aggravated assault against a police officer, which he had already risen to when he struggled with the officers and ran away. That's obstruction of an officer as well," said Johnson, who worked for the DeKalb Police Department for 27 years. "You always have that in the back of your mind when you're chasing someone, that this person can always turn around and produce a weapon."
Johnson said he understands the outrage from civilians and sympathizes with the brooks family-- particularly Brooks’ three daughters, but said he also wishes the public would have some empathy for police officers trying to serve and protect during these tense times.
"I have received several calls from black and white officers who are saddened by this situation, however, they want to go out there every day to do their job to the best of their ability. That's hard when you're going out there and you're trying to do the job and be a professional and people are looking at you as if you did something. That’s tough." said Johnson. "The thing we have to remember is that every White officer who puts on that uniform is not out to shoot or kill a black man."
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Johnson said there is one message he constantly drives home to civilians and police.
"The safest thing for both sides is to comply. The police and the public, we have got to work together and understand how we function and the way they see us and the way we see them. There are a few bad actors out there in the field and yes, there is room for improvement and reform, but we also need the public to trust us," Johnson added.