By: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- Rayshard Brooks's life was one that was dedicated to hard work and his family, according to those who knew him.
The 27-year-old spent most of his life in the Atlanta area with several siblings and cousins. He married Tomika Miller eight years ago and they had three children, Blessing, 8, Memory, 2, and Dream, 1. Brooks also had a 13-year-old stepson, Mekai.
Brooks worked many jobs and in the spring of 2019 he landed in Toledo, Ohio, a former employer told ABC News. Ambrea Mikolajczyk, co-owner of Ark Restoration, said one of her employees recommended Brooks and he quickly proved himself a hard-working member of their small team.
From carpentry to flooring, Brooks helped restore old homes and other properties with huge enthusiasm, according to Mikolajczyk. She noted that even though he didn't have a car, he was always the first person to show up to work every morning.
"I remember him saying, 'My name is Ray Brooks. I work hard. I can do whatever you need me to do if you just show me how to do it.' And that's what he did," Mikolajczyk told ABC News.
Brooks was living in Toledo to help take care of his father, who had had a heart transplant, according to Mikolajczyk. She was in touch with Brooks' father over the last few days and she said the two spent their time recollecting and strengthening their bond.
"I just talked to his father. He said they were doing a lot of firsts when [Ray] was here," Mikolajczyk said. "He had taken him fishing. He had never seen snow, so when it snowed they went sledding."
Brooks left the company and Toledo in December to go back to his family in Atlanta, but indicated that he was going to return after "getting some ducks in order," according to Mikolajczyk.
She said he kept in touch with a lot of the Ark Restoration team over the last couple of months and talked highly of his family.
"He was an amazing individual. He took care of his family and friends," Mikolajczyk said.
Miller echoed that sentiment during an interview with ABC News.
"He believed in peace. He believed in love. He was a beautiful spirit," she said.
Brooks was set to celebrate Blessing's eighth birthday on June 13, but on the night before he was confronted by officers who say he was sleeping in his car in a Wendy's drive-thru.
In police bodycam footage released on June 14, Brooks is seen calmly speaking with officers David Bronsan and Garret Rolfe after they woke him up and questioned him.
"I can just go home. My daughters are there right now. My daughter's birthday was yesterday," Brooks tells the officers in the video.
The officers administered a Breathalyzer to Brooks, and it registered a blood-alcohol level of .108%, which is above the legal limit of .08%.
As officers attempted to put Brooks in handcuffs, a struggle ensued and he got ahold of one of the officers' stun guns, according to the video and investigators. Another surveillance showed Brooks running away with the stun gun in his hand. Brooks turned and allegedly shot the stun gun at Rolfe, who drew his service weapon from his holster and opened fire, according to the video.
Brooks was taken to a local hospital, where he died after emergency surgery, according to investigators.
Rolfe was fired, and Brosnan was placed on administrative duty while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducts its investigation into the incident. Neither officer had been charged as of Monday evening.
Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned from her position after the incident. The shooting, coming in weeks after George Floyd's death at the hand of Minneapolis officers, prompted protests throughout the city and calls for justice from activists around the country.
Brooks' family said they appreciate the support and Miller called for peaceful protests in honor of her late husband.
"It's going to be a long time before I heal . . . before this family heals," Miller said at a news conference Monday.
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