Monday’s episode of The Daily Show found Trevor Noah trying to make sense of the recent death of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man who was killed by an Atlanta police officer earlier this month.
On June 12, officers responded to a 911 complaint about Brooks, who had fallen asleep in his car while intoxicated, blocking a Wendy’s drive-through lane. When Garrett Rolfe, one of the cops on the scene, attempted to handcuff Brooks for being too inebriated to operate a vehicle, Brooks resisted arrest and wrestled with the officers on the ground, at one point grabbing one of the officers’ tasers and firing it during a foot chase. Rolfe then shot at Brooks multiple times, striking him in the back twice; Brooks later died at the hospital after surgery.
In an emotional segment on Monday, Noah attempted to grapple with the circumstances of Brooks’ death, acknowledging that “it’s messy. No one wants to admit that the thing is messy. It’s not the perfect story… We should try and break it down and understand how something like this comes to be.”
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During his monologue, Noah questioned why it was necessary at all for two police officers to confront a drunk man who was sleeping in his car.
“You would hope a policeman would say, ‘Sir, you do not look fit to drive. You said your sister lives around the corner. We’ll take you home… Let us show you, just in a moment, that it doesn’t always have to end the way you think it has to end,'” Noah imagined. “I’m not saying they had to do that, but it would have been nice… And if police cannot respond to, or cannot handle, a drunk person, then they shouldn’t be responding.”
Noah also criticized the public discourse that typically surrounds police-involved killings of Black people, noting that “people always say the same thing: ‘If you didn’t do that, you would still be alive.'”
“But the truth is, the ‘if’s keep on changing,” Noah continued. “If you didn’t resist arrest, you would still be alive. If you didn’t run away from the cops, you would still be alive… Well, if you weren’t wearing a hoodie, you would still be alive. If you didn’t talk back to the cops, you would still be alive. If you weren’t sleeping in your bed as a Black woman, you would still be alive. There’s one common thread beyond all the ‘if’s: If you weren’t Black, maybe you’d still be alive.”
Watch Noah’s full segment on Brooks’ death above.