The past few years have been very difficult for Brooks Roberts, a 38-year-old man, and his family. Battling homelessness, disabilities, job losses, and eviction, their situation was devastated further when an encounter with law enforcement left Brooks paralyzed from the waist down.
The Roberts Family’s Struggles
The Roberts family found themselves among Idaho’s unhoused population, where approximately 2,000 people experienced homelessness in 2022. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in the state has risen 14.2% over the past 15 years.
Life in an RV
In Idaho, the majority of unhoused individuals live outdoors or in vehicles. Life in an RV camper became the only option for the Roberts family as they moved from one public land trailhead to another, trying to find a place to call home.
Law Enforcement Arrive
In May, the Roberts family lived in a national forest facing the U.S. Forest Service and various law enforcement agencies. They attempted to arrest the family for camping on public land beyond the permitted duration, and the situation escalated quickly.
A Tragic Encounter
Armed with a .22 revolver, Brooks Roberts did not fire his weapon, as shown by police body camera footage. However, officers responded with a barrage of gunfire, ultimately leaving Brooks paralyzed.
Failure to Identify
However, Idaho is an open-carry state. Since the police officers had not identified themselves as such, Roberts was within his rights to hold a weapon.
In response to the shooting, lawyers representing Brooks Roberts filed a personal injury claim against the federal government, seeking $50 million in compensation for a lifetime’s worth of lost earnings due to his disability.
Ritchie Eppink, one of Roberts’ lawyers, stated, “Forest Service officers needlessly and recklessly shot Mr. Roberts repeatedly, causing him extreme suffering and permanent disability.”
The Reality of Homelessness
While trying to survive and secure stable housing, the Roberts’ family faced arrest warrants for camping violations, further complicating their situation.
A Similar Issue
Homeless people nationwide are grappling with similar issues as cities enforce camping bans, leading to arrests and fines that make daily life a constant struggle.
On the Robert’s case, the legal director of the National Homelessness Law Center, Eric Tars, said, “The extreme use of force used against Roberts by federal officers sends a clear message from the federal government that unhoused people are less deserving of their right to life.”
This event seems to be getting a wide range of responses from the public, with some sympathizing with Roberts and others confused as to why he might be getting any money.
Not Hurting Anyone
One social media user sympathized with Roberts and commented, “Shooting those most vulnerable. Congratulations. He was not hurting anyone.”
However, another user looked at the situation and said, “Homeless vagrant and sleazy lawyer = big payout.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock /Aleksandr Medvedkov . The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.