ATLANTA (CNN) — The former Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks is facing felony murder charges.
Meanwhile, we’re getting an exclusive look at Brooks’ life.
In video obtained by CNN, Rayshard Brooks talks about life after incarceration, and the impact it had on his family.
“I’m 27 years of age, you know full time carpenter,” Brooks said.
That was Rayshard Brooks in February this year, just months before he was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer.
“I’ve always been the type of person to, you know, if, if you do something that’s wrong you pay your debts to society,” he said.
Brooks shared his story about navigating the criminal justice system with a group called reconnect.
“I just feel like some of the system could, you know look at us as individuals, we do have lives you know, was just a mistake we made, you know, and, you know, not, not just do us, as if we are animals and lock us away,” Brooks said. “When I did get arrested it was for false imprisonment and financial credit card fraud. I got sentenced to do one year in prison.”
When he got out, Brooks had no money, no car and a mountain of debt.
“For one individual trying to deal with all of these things at one point of time, it’s just impossible,” Brooks said. “You have court costs, probate, probation, just a lot of, a lot. You would have to have a lot of money, and I’m fresh out of jail.”
Fresh out of jail and in need of a job.
“You go to filling out your application and you get to this question, have you ever been convicted of a crime or have you ever been arrested and, you know, you sit in there like, oh my God, you know. Just breaks your heart,” he said. “It’s hurting us, but it’s hurting our families the most, you know, as we go through these trials and tribulations. We’ve made mistakes, and it’s caused our kids to be angry inside. You know, and that’s that’s that’s a hard feeling to stomach.”
All of this, Brooks says, impacted his mental health.
“It hardened me at a point, you know to like hey you know I have to have my, my guard up because the world is cruel, you know,” he said. “It took me through seeing different things and, you know, in the system you know it just, just makes you hardened to a point.”
What Brooks needed most was help from very system that locked him up.
“Probation is not there with you every day, like a mentor or something. They’re not taking you out to find a job, you have to do these things on your own, you know, and I feel like it should be a way for you to have some kind of person like a mentor assigned to you to, you know, keep your track keep you in the direction you need to be going,” Brooks said. “We can’t get the time back but we can make up for it. I’m trying, you know I’m not the type of person to give up. You know, and I’m gonna keep going until I make it to where I want to be.”
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