We Grew Up With an Officer Involved in Rayshard Brooks’ Murder. We’re Not Surprised.

We rode the school bus with Devin Brosnan. The news made all too much sense.

Emily Joyner and Caroline Joyner
Published in
7 min readJun 16, 2020


Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One of the many sickening things about videos of Black people dying at the hands of police officers is that we all more or less know exactly how they will end. There is an eerie familiarity with every single one. Yet we still played that video of Rayshard Brooks. On cue, the insidious feeling we’ve become so accustomed to crept in. Even before the confrontation, even before the gunfire, we knew his fate.

As details emerged, so too did another horrifying feeling. We learned that we knew one of the officers involved in Brooks’ murder, Devin Brosnan. Devin came from our hometown of Southborough, Massachusetts. We rode the school bus with him. But our horror came not from his terrifying proximity; it came from something far more sinister — another eerie familiarity.

In August 2017, white supremacists and neo-Nazis stormed into Charlottesville, Virginia, leading the infamous “Unite the Right” rally. The hateful gathering ended in racist taunting and deadly violence, a clear reminder that white supremacy still pulses through the veins of this country. From that rally came the infamous photo — a sea of white nationalists marching along the University of Virginia lawn carrying lit tiki torches. Front and center in that photograph, eyes filled with hatred, is Matt Colligan. He was also from our hometown of Southborough, Massachusetts; we rode the school bus with him as well.

We find ourselves in a pivotal moment in history, where people around the world demand justice for the murder of Black people at the hands of police. It’s happening all during a pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting Black and Brown Americans. Since the brutal murder of George Floyd on May 25 by a white officer kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, millions of people across the U.S. and the world have hit the streets to protest.

Last Friday, a scene that began with Rayshard Brooks sleeping in a Wendy’s parking lot somehow ended with cops shooting him multiple times in the back as he ran away. Brooks — father of three, stepfather of one, beloved husband, son, sibling…