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Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by Atlanta police at a Wendy's parking lot earlier this month

By Claudia Harmata
June 21, 2020 05:00 PM
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Rayshard Brooks
Rayshard Brooks
| Credit: Facebook

Clark Atlanta University in Georgia and one of the institution's alumna have promised full scholarships to Rayshard Brooks' four children in the wake of his killing by Atlanta police earlier this month.

The school and alumna, Aisha “Pinky” Cole, the CEO of the Slutty Vegan Restaurant and the Pinky Cole Foundation, announced the news on Saturday in a joint statement.

“It was without hesitation that we made the decision to partner with our notable alumna and entrepreneur Pinky Cole to help the family and children of Mr. Rayshard Brooks,” Clark Atlanta University President George T. French. Jr said. “The senseless death of Mr. Brooks will undoubtedly have long-term financial effects on the family and these scholarships will not only provide them with a means to access a world class education, but will help them on their pathway of success."

Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man and father of four, was shot by Atlanta police at a Wendy’s parking lot on June 12, and succumbed to his injuries after undergoing surgery. Police had received a complaint that a man, later identified as Brooks, was asleep in a parked car in the drive-thru. After he resisted arrest, the officer deployed a Taser and a struggle ensued, resulting in Brooks being shot.

He is survived by his wife, Tomika Miller, and four children: Dream, 1, Memory, 2, Blessing, and Mekai, 13.

Rayshard Brooks
Rayshard Brooks and his family
| Credit: GoFundMe

"When you lose someone so close to you, there is a level of momentum that is lost because a piece of you is gone. I saw Rayshard’s wife Tomika’s pain, and my heart led me to want to help her and her children,” Cole said of partnering with her alma mater to fund the scholarships. “Rayshard Brooks could’ve been my brother, my father, or even my significant other. I wanted to remind her that it takes a village and we are a part of her village.”

The scholarships are worth more than $600,000 and will cover full tuition, meals, room and board for all four children should they choose to attend the university after graduating high school.

Last week, PEOPLE exclusively confirmed that Tyler Perry offered to pay for Brooks' children's college educations. A source told PEOPLE, Perry, 50, "spoke to Rayshard's family and wanted to do something to help," adding, "His heart goes out to the family during this tragic time."

Garrett Rolfe, the fired Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Brooks, has been charged with felony murder and 10 other crimes, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced at a press conference last week.

Howard alleged that after shooting Brooks, Rolfe allegedly kicked Brooks when he was on the ground struggling for his life. Howard also alleged that the other officer present, Devin Brosnan, stood on top of Brooks after he'd been shot.

In addition to felony murder, Rolfe is charged with several aggravated assault charges, criminal damage to property and seven violations of oath of office. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.

Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault and two violations of oath of office.

It was not immediately clear if either man had retained an attorney to comment on his behalf.

Garrett Rolfe, Rayshard Brooks, Devin Brosnan
Garrett Rolfe, Rayshard Brooks, Devin Brosnan
| Credit: Atlanta Police Department; Courtesy Stewart Trial Attorneys; Atlanta Police Department

Brooks' widow, Tomika Miller, spoke with Today's Savannah Guthrie on Thursday, sharing her reaction to murder charges made against the Atlanta police officer who fatally shot her husband, The mother also opened up about grieving and supporting their kids.

"I have my up and down moments. I can't say I'm doing well, because I'm not," said Miller. "It's hard for me to sleep. Every day I'm praying to get through it; I'm praying for strength."

One of Brooks' daughters, Blessing, celebrated her 8th birthday the day after he was killed. "They miss him dearly," Miller told Guthrie.

Miller added that it has been "very emotional" knowing that Father's Day is just around the corner.

"All I can think about is my husband won't be here — no matter how many charges they face, it's not gonna bring him back; there's not gonna be a day when I see him walk through the door or he's laughing with the kids again, or he's trying to do his best in life and become the best man he wants to be for his family," she said.

Brooks’ killing came amid weeks of protests against police brutality and racial injustice, which began following the murder of George Floyd last month.

A GoFundMe page has been created by the Stewart Trial Attorneys' Care Team, who is representing the family. All proceeds will go to Brooks’ family.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.