Trevor Noah Reflects on Rayshard Brooks: "You Don't Deserve to Die for Being Drunk"

Trevor Noah - Serious -Publicity still - H 2020
Comedy Central

"We should try and break it down and understand how something like this comes to be," the 'Daily Show' host said about the man who was killed by police officers on Friday.

Trevor Noah gave an impassioned speech about the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks during Monday's episode of The Daily Show.

On June 12, Brooks fell asleep in his car at a Wendy's drive-thru in Atlanta after drinking alcohol. While other cars drove around Brooks, someone at the restaurant called the cops. Once the cops arrived, they got Brooks out of his car and started talking to him.

"The whole time throughout this video, you have human beings being human beings," Noah said of the footage of Brooks' interactions with the police. "You have Rayshard, who’s clearly inebriated, and he's talking to the cops."

The host noted that the beginning of the video made it seem like everything would be fine. "The cops are talking to him like a person," he said. "They're not being disrespectful. They're not being mean or anything. He's being respectful."

Everything initially seemed to be "going well" between Brooks and the cops, Noah said, though "in just a few seconds every part of that normal story turns into the abnormal ending that we've come to know as interactions with police and black people."

The police attempted to arrest Brooks and he resisted. "In the scuffle, they try and tase him. While he's being tased, he grabs the taser, he gets up, he runs away," recapped Noah. "The police chase him. As he's running, he shoots off the taser and one of the cops switches his weapons from a taser to a gun and shoots Rayshard two or three times in the back and he's dead."

People were quick to choose sides after the killing. "That's what plagues me about these stories. Everyone just goes to their battle stations," said Noah. "Immediately people go, 'Well, once again, another example of black people resisting the cops and being criminals' and 'Why are you driving drunk?' and 'Why are you running away from the police?'"

"Then, of course, you have other people, you know, in their battle stations saying, 'Oh, of course. Another story of cops who immediately shoot a black man for just sleeping in his car,'" he continued.

"No one wants to admit that the thing is messy," said the host. "If the story didn't happen now, maybe we would be looking at it differently. But it's a messy story. It's not the perfect story, and in a weird way, it not being the perfect story means we should look at it in the most perfect way possible. We should try and break it down and understand how something like this comes to be because we don't always have video like this. We don't always have stories like this."

Noah then took a deeper look into the story. "Was he drunk driving? Let's say that he is," he said. "So he's broken some law. A law not worth dying for."

He then called out the police for being armed when approaching Brooks, who was committing a non-violent crime. "No one at Wendy's felt afraid. Cars are driving around him. He's not stopping people from ordering food," said Noah. "So why are armed police there in the first place?"

Noah then questioned why the cops didn't offer to help Brooks get home safely. "The man says to them, 'I will walk home.' If you're protecting and serving people, what is the true purpose of you not wanting people to drive drunk? It's that you don't want them killing themselves and other people. In this instance, no one has died because of his driving and he hadn't killed himself because of his driving."

The Daily Show host said he wished an officer would have given Brooks the benefit of the doubt and helped him get home because "the country's burning down because of the way black people are dealt with by the police." He added that he wished the cop would have told Brooks, "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 added that the situation got even messier because Brooks was drunk. Noah noted that drunk people aren't able to make important and rational decisions, so the police should have taken that into consideration. "It doesn't mean they deserve to die. They're drunk," he said. "You don't deserve to die for being drunk."

"If police cannot respond or handle a drunk person, well then they shouldn't be responding," continued Noah. "The whole point of you going there was to make sure that people don't die because of whatever's happened, but if the people are gonna end up dead anyway, then what's the point?"

"In a situation like that, the sober person, in my opinion, the sober person, the onus is upon them to make sure the situation doesn't get out of hand," Noah argued.

"People always say the same thing. They go, 'Well, you know, if you didn't do that, then you would still be alive,'" he continued. "The truth is, the ifs keep on changing. 'Oh, if you didn't resist arrest. If you didn't resist arrest, you would still be alive.' Or 'If you didn't run away from the cops, you would still be alive.'"

Other examples the host used were, "if you didn't have a toy gun and were 12 years old in the middle of a park," a reference to Tamir Rice; "if you weren't wearing a hoodie," Trayvon Martin; or, "if you weren't sleeping in your bed as a black woman, you would've still been alive," Breonna Taylor.

"There's one common thread beyond all the ifs," Noah concluded. "If you weren't black, maybe you'd still be alive."

Watch the full segment below.