The police shooting of Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta triggered multiple protests demanding justice for the 27-year-old Black man that left law enforcement reeling.
The Atlanta Police Department’s top cop, Police Chief Erika Shields, resigned a day after the deadly shooting. Eight other officers have also quit since June 1. This marks a higher rate than usual. The department typically received two to six monthly resignations.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a news conference, “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”
Initially, the Atlanta Police Foundation reported on June 15 that there had been 19 resignations. The group later retracted its claim, confirming there have been eight resignations so far in June, Fox 5 News reported.
In a now-retracted statement sent to Fox 5 News, the foundation wrote, “We are now going into the third consecutive week of unabated protests in which officers have worked 12-hour shifts seven days per week. As you can imagine, their stress levels are exacerbated by physical and emotional exhaustion.”
A few hours later, the police department issued a statement saying that only eight officers have resigned since the beginning of June.
The statement read, “There has been a claim circulating that 19 Atlanta Police Department officers resigned over the weekend. We have checked with the source of that claim and they are planning to issue a retraction of that statement because it is not correct and was not verified by APD. The information we have is that eight officers have resigned since June 1.”
The foundation later corrected its initial statement: “Earlier today, the Atlanta Police Foundation reported an inaccurate number of officer resignations within the Atlanta Police Department since the start of the social justice protests. Eight officers (8) have resigned since June 1. Due to a miscommunication, we reported inaccurately that 19 officers had resigned. We apologize for the error.”
Brooks, a father of four, was shot twice in the back and killed after he struggled when police tried to arrest him in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant.
Police were called to the restaurant because of a report that he had fallen asleep in the drive-through line at Wendy’s and was blocking access for traffic.
When woken by the police, Brooks was given a field sobriety test, which he failed. While the police attempted to handcuff him, he grabbed a Taser from one of the officers, ran away, and fired the Taser while he was being pursued, according to reports.
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Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the shots that killed Brooks, was fired, and the other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, was put on desk duty.
Shields stepped down as chief after the first night of protests over Brooks’ death, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported
“For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest women and men in the Atlanta Police Department,” Shields said in a statement. “Out of a deep and abiding love for this city and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. APD has my full support, and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department.”
L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks’ family, said Brooks had planned to take his 8-year-old daughter skating for her birthday but never came home. “She had her birthday dress on. She was waiting for her dad to come pick her up and take her skating,” he said Saturday.
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