HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Days after the killing of a man accused of shoplifting, his family is demanding to see the video of what happened leading up to the trigger being pulled.
Roderick Brooks was killed on Friday at about 6 p.m. in the parking lot of a gas station on Kuykendahl near FM 1960.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office said they got a call about Brooks assaulting an employee of the nearby Dollar General who tried to stop him from shoplifting. Sgt. Hardin spotted the 47-year-old nearby and began chasing him on foot. He deployed his stun gun at some point, but the sheriff's office said it was ineffective. The two apparently started fighting and officials said Brooks got ahold of the sergeant's stun gun. They said Sgt. Hardin then shot Brooks in the neck and he died on the scene.
"He knew he couldn't re-use the (stun gun) because the (stun gun) had already been discharged," Sadiyah Evangelista Karriem, the family's attorney, said. "It wasn't like he could reuse that, so instead he used his weapon to kill him."
With tears in their eyes, Brooks's family spoke at a news conference Tuesday alongside their attorney and community activists.
"My brother was treated worse than an animal," Demetria Brooks-Glaze, Brooks' sister, said. "You go to jail for shooting an animal."
She described a very smart, single, 47-year-old man who read the newspaper every day and cared for his family.
"(Brooks) was always for family, no if ands or buts," Brooks-Glaze said. "I get upset with him when he (made) the choices he made, but he is always going to be my brother and I am always going to speak out for him."
HCSO has promised a "thorough, transparent and timely" investigation into what happened, but the family does not want to wait. They are demanding to see the body camera video and surveillance footage now.
"Just let us see what happened," Brooks-Glaze said. "We need to see what happened from in the dollar store. What happened?"
They acknowledged that Brooks is accused of stealing but said the punishment for theft is not death.
"What could be value high enough in a damned Dollar General to where it was worth taking somebody's life?" community activist Deric Muhammad asked.
The family has been to the gas station where he was killed to look for any video that might show what happened. They have only been able to see one that showed the aftermath.
People who claim to have witnessed what happened described a narrative that they said differs from what the sheriff's office has put out.
"You can only imagine his last moments of his life," Evangelista Karriem said. "He's in fear and officers on top of his back, as the bystanders say that he was being pulverized with punches all over his head after he was tased and subdued."
The witnesses also claim to have heard racial slurs hurled toward Brooks.
In a statement, a spokesperson for HCSO said, "The investigation is open and ongoing. We will be releasing body cam footage in a timely manner, but a date has not been scheduled."
Just before the news conference, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted out, "Our investigation into the shooting involving our HCSO Sgt. G. Hardin and Mr. Roderick Brooks on July 8th, remains on-going. Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Brooks. We are committed to a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation. We take every incident involving the loss of life extremely serious. If there is anyone that was a direct witness to the incident that we have not yet identified, please contact our Homicide Unit at 713-274-9100."
"His words mean nothing to us. They go over our heads. We can't bring him back. It's broken, and it can't be fixed," Brooks-Glaze said when asked about her response to the message.
According to records, Brooks has an extensive arrest history, mostly for charges of theft and trespassing. He was arrested days before his death for stealing shampoo and beer and posted a $2,000 bond.
His sister said his mugshots mean nothing.
"A man that steals shampoo and soap and toiletries and things of that nature in order to survive is a man who did not need to be put in jail," Muhammad said. "This is a man who needed to be given help with the personal problems the mental and emotional issues he may have been suffering from at that time."
Brooks' family acknowledged that he suffered from mental health problems but did not specify what. They said things became tough for him after their parents died when he was 10 years old.
The family's attorney said they were waiting to see what exactly happened prior to Brooks' shooting death before they decide whether they will file a lawsuit.
Hardin is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.