Another unarmed Black man is killed by the police — this time in Atlanta — leading to the resignation of the city’s police chief, and massive protests over the weekend.
Georgia — The Atlanta Police Department fired Officer Garrett Rolf on Sunday, two days after he fatally shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s parking lot. His partner on the scene, officer Devin Brosnan was placed on administrative duty. On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields.
“Because of her desire that Atlanta is a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief so that the city may move forward with urgency and rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities,” the mayor said in a statement.
On June 12, Atlanta police responded to a call at a Wendy’s located at 125 University Ave. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), police got a complaint that a man was asleep in his parked car in the drive-thru lane, which forced customers to drive around the vehicle. Bodycam footage shows the officers knocking on Brooks’ car window and waking him up. Brooks complied with the officers and drove to a parking spot where police conducted a sobriety test. Brooks tells the officers that he has had “maybe one-and-a-half drinks.” “I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving,” former Officer Rolf said.
The GBI report that Brooks had failed his sobriety test, and the police attempted to place him under arrest. The video shows a scuffle between the officer and Brooks. “You’re going to get Tased!” Rolf can be heard saying in the video. “Stop fighting!”
“During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued,” the GBI report. “The officer deployed a Taser. Witnesses report that during the struggle, the male subject grabbed and was in possession of the Taser. It has also been reported that the male subject was shot by an officer in the struggle over the Taser.”
A day after the shooting in a press conference, GBI Director Vic Reynolds explained what led to Rolf shooting Brooks.
“It does appear in the video that he is fleeing from the Atlanta police officers, that as he’s fleeing, he turns back over his shoulder with what appears to the naked eye to be his Taser that the eyewitnesses told us they saw the individual have that belonged to one of the officers,” Reynolds said. “And as he turned it over, you’ll be able to see on the video the Atlanta officer, literally reach down to get his service weapon and as he gets his weapon, Mr. Brooks begins turning his body away from him, I presume to flee.”
Brooks was taken to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead after surgery. The autopsy report released by the Fulton County, Georgia, Medical Examiner’s Office, listed Brooks’ death as a homicide. The report indicates that Brooks was shot twice in the back, and his death was the result of organ damage and blood loss, CNN reports.
Hours after the shooting, Mayor Bottoms denounced Rolf’s use of excessive force and demanded the officer be fired.
“While there may be debate over 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,” Bottoms said. “I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”
People Continue to Protest for Racial Justice
Brooks, who worked in a Mexican restaurant, leaves behind his wife, three daughters ages 1, 2, 8, and a 13-year-old stepson. He was planning to celebrate his 8-year-old’s birthday on Saturday.