Houston, TX – The family of a suspect who was fatally shot by a Harris County sheriff’s sergeant after he managed to gain control of the sergeant’s Taser during a fight has accused police of “doctoring” bodycam footage of the incident to make it appear that the suspect was the one responsible for the situation (video below):
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) released bodycam footage of the fatal encounter on July 22.
The incident began at approximately 5:57 p.m. on July 8, when 47-year-old Roderick Brooks walked into a Dollar General store located in the 2000-block of FM 1960 West, HCSO Chief Mike Lee said in the video briefing.
Security footage showed Brooks taking items from the store shelves and trying to leave without paying for them, according to Chief Lee.
“A female employee confronted the man at the exit door, and he continued out the door with the employee following behind,” he added.
The HCSO received a 911 call from the employee at 6:04 p.m. advising that a “black man in a blue shirt, gray shorts, and a baseball cap” had stolen various items from the store, Chief Lee said.
The woman also said the suspect hit her as he was leaving the business, 911 recordings revealed.
A second caller dialed 911 to report that he saw a suspect knock a woman to the ground while fleeing from the Dollar General store with stolen items, Chief Lee said.
The caller continued watching the suspect after he left the building and was able to provide the dispatcher with his location.
“I’m not gonna let him get away…I’m just going to follow him from a distance, because he pushed the lady at the door and I don’t think that that’s right,” the caller added. “You can clearly see he’s got [all of the stolen items] in his pants…you could tell. He could barely walk and he could barely run.”
The same caller contacted 911 again a short while later to let police know that the suspect had tried to hide for a short while, then changed into a black shirt, the recordings showed.
A HCSO patrol sergeant spotted the suspect in the 15500-block of Kuykendahl Road at 6:19 p.m. and notified dispatch, Chief Lee said.
He also requested backup.
The 20-year HCSO veteran was later identified as Sergeant Garrett Hardin, KTRK reported.
Bodycam footage showed Sgt. Hardin as he bailed out of his patrol vehicle to chase after the fleeing suspect on foot.
He ordered Brooks to “come here,” but the suspect ignored him and continued his escape attempt.
“I’m gonna tase you,” the sergeant warned at one point. “Get on the ground!”
Sgt. Hardin closed in on Brooks as a passing vehicle pulled in front of the suspect and briefly blocked his path, the video showed.
The sergeant ultimately deployed his Taser, hitting Brooks and taking him to the ground, KTRK reported.
Brooks continued struggling while he was down on the pavement, the video showed.
The suspect called the sergeant a “b—h” and asked him why he tased him before forcefully pushing himself up off the ground as Sgt. Hardin tried to push him back down.
“Get off me, man!” Brooks said.
During the struggle with the suspect, Sgt. Hardin lost possession of his Taser, which wound up falling onto the pavement next to Brooks’ head, the video showed.
The suspect ultimately grabbed the weapon, ignoring Sgt. Hardin’s commands to put it down.
“I’m gonna shoot you,” the sergeant warned at one point. “Put that down! I will shoot you!”
The video showed Brooks holding the Taser in his right hand and captured the sound of the weapon being deployed.
A single gunshot rang out a moment later.
“Shots fired,” the winded sergeant said over the radio as Brooks lay motionless on the pavement.
He also requested emergency medical assistance for the suspect.
Brooks was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m., Chief Lee said.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences conducted a full autopsy.
The HCSO’s Homicide Division is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting, and a separate internal affairs investigation is also underway.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Division is also conducting an independent investigation.
The case is expected to be presented to a grand jury, Chief Lee said.
Sgt. Hardin has been placed on administrative leave while the investigations are pending.
Brooks’ sister, Demetria Brooks-Glaze, said the bodycam footage the HCSO released was “nothing but lies,” KTRK reported.
Sadiyah Evangelista-Karriem, the attorney representing the Brooks family, said the sheriff’s office showed her and the family two edited versions of the bodycam footage last week, but that they were both different than the video that was released to the public.
The family said Sgt. Hardin repeatedly punched Brooks in the face during the brawl and they accused police of editing that portion of the incident out, KTRK reported.
“They even edited even further because they saw that there was punching in there,” Evangelista-Karriem alleged. “We saw that with our own eyes where the assault took place on Roderick Brooks.”
The attorney claimed police had “doctored up” the footage, KPRC reported.
“We saw two different versions prior to July 22, and as I am watching this third version that was released to the public, what I’m noticing is that it did not show Officer Hardin punching multiple times as witnesses have come to us and told us – five different witnesses – that he pulverized Roderick Brooks with punches,” she alleged.
Brooks-Glaze called the situation a “puzzle” and demanded to know “who authorized the tape to be changed,” KTRK reported.
“If it’s evidence, why are we tampering with evidence?” she asked. “We need to see a clear picture of the bruises.”
“We need to see the true tape,” she told KTRK. “That tape’s not true, because when we saw pictures from the autopsy, Roderick’s whole right face is bruised up.”
Brooks-Glaze insisted Sgt. Hardin must have beat her brother up because she said she knows Brooks would never have fought back, KTRK reported.
Evangelista-Karriem said she has asked the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice to investigate the case, KTRK reported.
She also said the family plans to sue the HCSO.
“That Taser could not harm the officer,” Evangelista-Karriem told KTRK. “So, for him to use unreasonable, unnecessary deadly force against someone who had a device that was non-lethal, that was cold-blooded murder.”
Community activist Deric Muhammad further questioned why the HCSO is even involved in the investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting, KPRC reported.
“You cannot trust a skunk to investigate its own funk,” Muhammad said. “And that is exactly what we are doing or trusting when we trust them to investigate themselves. We are saying to the intelligent public, ‘do not accept the version of what they have given us as it relates to how Roderick was murdered.’”
Muhammad further claimed it is a “fact” that Sgt. Hardin “carefully placed the taser within Roderick’s reach to give him an excuse – not a reason – but an excuse to execute this black man in broad daylight,” KPRC reported.
Sgt. Hardin’s attorney, Justin Keiter, said his client acted appropriately during the violent encounter and that he looks forward to helping clear his name, KTRK reported.
“We have no doubt Sgt. Hardin was well within his rights and will be exonerated,” Keiter said. “What he did was necessary for his safety, and that of others.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: On Friday, July 8, unarmed 47-year-old Roderick Brooks from Houston, Texas was shot by Sgt. Garrett Hardin of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office near where his head and neck met and killed for allegedly shoplifting $1 detergent from Dollar General. pic.twitter.com/XMd4CBJzzS
— Gerald Jackson (@GeraldJBlessed) July 28, 2022