Rayshard Brooks' death at the hands of police won't be in vain, and will lead to lasting changes in Atlanta ... at least that's how his family is viewing his legacy.
One of Rayshard's cousins, Decatur Redd, tells TMZ ... the family thinks the felony murder charge brought against the officer who fired the fatal shots is a start, and makes it feel like Rayshard died for a reason.
Decatur says charging Garrett Rolfe, the fired cop who fatally shot Rayshard in the back, won't bring back his cousin, but it could help Georgia enact its first hate crime bill.
As we reported ... Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howardannounced 11 charges against Rolfe Wednesday, including felony murder and multiple acts of aggravated assault.
Decatur tells us family members had trouble sleeping leading up to the announcement, because they feared Rayshard's killer would not be charged, which he says would have reopened lots of wounds in Atlanta.
That all changed, of course, after the D.A.'s announcement, and he shared the emotions of that moment.
The felony murder charge wasn't the only shock to the family. Decatur says it was heartbreaking to hear Rayshard didn't get timely medical aid -- and to see Rolfe kicked him as he lay dying.