Police in Atlanta shot and killed a 27-year-old black man, apparently while he was running away as he resisted arrest at a drive-thru of a Wendy’s. The shooting, which is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Fulton County District’s Attorney, led to the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.
The man, identified as Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks, had been reported to police for sleeping in his car and blocking the drive-thru lane, which forced other customers to drive around his car to get their food. When police arrived at around 10:30 p.m. they administered a field sobriety test. Brooks reportedly failed the test. Officers then tried to arrest Brooks, who reportedly struggled with officers. In that struggle, Brooks apparently grabbed a Taser that had been deployed by police. Video that appears to have been shot by a Wendy’s customer and was shared widely on social media shows two officers struggling with Brooks in the parking lot. Brooks then runs away from police and that was when he was fatally shot. Brooks was taken to the hospital but died after surgery.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released surveillance video it claims appears to show that Brooks turned toward the officer with the Taser while he was running away. “It does appear in the video that as he’s fleeing, he turns back over his shoulder with what appears to the naked eye to be this Taser,” Vic Reynolds, the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, said, claiming that was when the police officer opened fire. The full video is below (the shooting takes place at 28:35).
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for the officer who shot Brooks to be fired. “While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do. I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” Bottoms said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. The other officer at the scene has been placed on administrative duty.
Bottoms also said Shields made the decision to resign from her post as police chief but will continue in the force in a yet-to-be-determined role. “Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief so that the city move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our community,” Bottoms said.
A group of protesters gathered at the Wendy’s Saturday morning. A leader of the demonstration said the parking lot at Wendy’s was “the new ground zero.” Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said that the killing illustrates why the use of deadly force should be restricted. “Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death,” Abrams wrote on Twitter. The Georgia NAACP called for the firing of Atlanta’s police chief.
Atlanta has seen lots of protests in the past few weeks amid national demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd. Some of those protests became violent and six Atlanta law enforcement officers are facing charges of using excessive force during a protest. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms fired two of those officers. The shooting on Friday night is the 48th police shooting the GBI has investigated this year.