Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace opened his interview this weekend with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson by asking about the “terrible incident” in Atlanta that ended with the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks after he was found sleeping in his car.
As Wallace put it, Brooks was “clearly resisting arrest” when he apparently grabbed one of the officer’s Tasers and ran away from them. But, he asked, ”was it appropriate to use deadly force against somebody whose original offense was that he fell asleep in the drive-thru lane at a Wendy’s?”
After suggesting that perhaps he was not knowledgeable enough about this situation and police shootings in general, Carson weighed in anyway.
“I think this is a situation that is not clear cut, you know, like the callous murder that occurred in Minnesota,” Carson said. “And it really requires the heads of people who know what should be done under the circumstances to make judgement.”
Pressed by Wallace on why he didn’t believe the shooting was “clear cut,” Carson started comparing this shooting to the police killing of George Floyd, but the host cut him off. “No, no, I understand that, but why was the Atlanta case not clear cut?” he asked.
“Because we don’t know what was in the mind of the officer,” Carson answered. “When somebody turns around, points a weapon at him, is he absolutely sure that’s a non-lethal weapon?”
“You know, this is not a clear-cut circumstance,” he continued, repeating that phrase for the third time. “Now could it have been handled better? Certainly, in retrospect, there are probably other ways to do things. But we, the public, don’t know.”
Carson’s comments closely resembled those of Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who told Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan on Sunday, “That situation is certainly a far less clear one than the ones that we saw with George Floyd and several other ones around the country.”
Announcing the resignation of her city’s police chief on Friday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took a far more decisive stance. “I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” she told reporters. “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”
In a separate interview on ABC News’ This Week, Carson declined to back Trump’s claims that he has been the best president since Abraham Lincoln for the African-American community, saying the debate was “not productive.”
"To get into an argument about who has done the most probably is not productive, but it is good to acknowledge the things that have been done," he said.