Atlanta Police Chief resigns after officer shoots and kills a black man

14 June 2020 11:44 am - 13     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Less than 24 hours after a white police officer shot and killed an African-American man outside a fast-food restaurant, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta announced on Saturday that the city’s police chief had resigned, NY Times reported.

Early on Sunday morning, Sgt. John Chafee, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, said the officer who shot the man had been fired.

The shooting left many in the city once again incensed by the death of another black man at the hands of the police — and nervous about the potential for more destructive flare-ups. By Saturday night, protesters had blocked roads and an interstate near the restaurant, a Wendy’s, and apparently set it on fire, according to news reports, with police firing tear gas and flash grenades to try to disperse the crowd.

The authorities said the man, Rayshard Brooks, 27, had run from the police on Friday night after failing a sobriety test and grabbing a Taser from an officer during a struggle with him. Ms. Bottoms said that security footage appeared to show that Mr. Brooks had fired the Taser toward the officer, who was chasing him before he was killed, but that she did not consider that a justification for the shooting.

“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,” Ms. Bottoms said. “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”

Sergeant Chafee identified the officer in the shooting as Garrett Rolfe and said he had joined the department in October 2013. The other officer on the scene, Devin Bronsan, was placed on administrative duty, he added.

Ms. Bottoms’s rapid response to the fatal shooting signaled the heightened scrutiny facing law enforcement as a  wave of protest against police violence continues in many cities around the country — a movement that has already prompted a number of changes to local police policies, as well as a broader conversation about the ongoing racism that people of color experience  in the justice system and nearly every other facet of American life.

In the past, police shootings have rarely prompted such swift and dramatic responses. It is more common for city leaders to stand with the police and urge patience as prosecutors and the police departments themselves conduct reviews. The moves by Atlanta officials on Saturday may have been taken with an eye to the streets, in the hope of dampening a potentially explosive reaction like those that have engulfed many cities over the last several weeks.

The resignation of Atlanta’s police chief, Erika Shields, who is white, was the latest in a series of shake-ups at several large police departments amid the protests after the killing of Mr. Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. In Portland, Ore., Chief Jami Resch, who is white, stepped down this week, saying she wanted a top black lieutenant to replace her. And earlier this month, the mayor of Louisville terminated the city’s police chief after his officers were among those who fired at the owner of a barbecue restaurant, who was black.

In Atlanta, a few nights of looting, destruction and tense stand offs with the police followed Mr. Floyd’s death, including an incident in which two college students were pulled by police officers from their car and tased, an encounter that was captured on video. But more recently, the protests in the southern city, as in much of the country, have been mostly peaceful, if no less spirited.

Antonio Brown, an African-American city councilman, has spent days organizing and leading peaceful protests through the city. “It’s like, all the work we’ve done — and then this happens,” Mr. Brown said.

The encounter at the Wendy’s began around 10:30 p.m. on Friday when police officers were called to the restaurant because Mr. Brooks had fallen asleep in his vehicle, which was parked in the drive-through, causing other customers to drive around him, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
Mr. Brooks failed a sobriety test, the authorities said, and then struggled with the officers as he was being arrested. A video posted on social media showed him grappling with the two officers who were trying to arrest him. One officer appeared to try to stun him with a Taser after Mr. Brooks threw a punch at him.

As Mr. Brooks ran away, appearing to hold the Taser, one officer chased after him, holding another stun gun. Then, in one video, several gunshots were heard.
The bureau initially said in a statement that witnesses described Mr. Brooks being shot “in the struggle over the Taser.” But on Saturday afternoon, after obtaining surveillance video from the restaurant and reviewing videos on social media, the bureau revised that  account, saying it “was based on the officer’s body cam which was knocked off during the physical struggle, preventing the capture of the entire shooting incident.”

“During the chase, Mr. Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer,” the bureau said, adding that “the officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks.”
Mr. Brooks was taken to a hospital, where he died after surgery, the authorities said. One officer was treated at a hospital for an injury and was later released.

L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer who was hired by the Brooks family, said repeatedly at a news conference Saturday night that a Taser was not considered a deadly weapon, and that there was no justification for the police to shoot Mr. Brooks just because he had one in his hands.

He also said that the police could have instead cornered Mr. Brooks and arrested him, instead of chasing him and shooting him. “His life was not in immediate harm when he fired that shot,” Mr. Stewart said of the officer.

He said the officers put on plastic gloves and picked up shell casings before rendering first aid to Mr. Brooks, and also did not check his pulse for more than two minutes after he was shot.

Mr. Brooks’s half-sister, Kiara Owens, 26, said in a phone interview that Mr. Brooks had been working a construction job and had five daughters, including two who were stepchildren, and a sixth daughter on the way. “All he wanted to do is work and come home to his kids,” she said. “The kids have been asking like, ‘Is Daddy coming home?’ And I can’t tell the kids nothing. I can’t tell them.”
The killing was particularly painful for a city sometimes called America’s Black Mecca for its cultural and economic importance to the lives of African-Americans, and its stature as one of the great spiritual and organizing centers of the civil rights movement.

Atlanta remains a majority-black city with significant African-American political representation and a large number of black police officers. That has created a complex interplay between protesters and city authorities as recent protests have unfolded.

Mayor Bottoms, who is African-American, earned widespread praise for her response to the unrest early on, speaking passionately about her role as a black mother and her fears for her black son. Her eloquence elevated her national stature, and put her on a list of potential vice-presidential picks for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Ms. Shields had also earned praise for her response to the street protests after Mr. Floyd’s death. Early on, she went out into the streets to speak — and listen — to demonstrators.

But the city’s response has also been marked by controversy and embarrassment, including an incident in which a young black man and black woman were tased and violently dragged from their cars by Atlanta police officers as protests raged downtown. The episode, on May 30, was captured by television reporters and transmitted live as it unfolded.

Two of the officers involved in that incident were fired, and four others were placed on administrative leave. Soon after, the local district attorney, Paul Howard, brought criminal charges against all six officers — a move that Chief Shields criticized in a departmental email that referred to Mr. Howard’s re-election bid, according to The Associated Press.

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  Comments - 13

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  • BigEars Sunday, 14 June 2020 12:57 PM

    Thanks George. Sad you had to leave us.

    Mmm Sunday, 14 June 2020 02:33 PM

    Any one know what will be the reaction if happened in SRILANKA???

    BigEars Sunday, 14 June 2020 03:45 PM

    The reaction in Sri Lanka will be nothing. The majority Sri Lanka culture is mind ones own business.

    Ups Sunday, 14 June 2020 02:24 PM

    If this happen in another country,especially in China we can see American reaction on humanrights ,non of these NGOs or UN won't make any sound,seems for them too. 'Black lives not matter

    divoom Sunday, 14 June 2020 06:33 PM

    lol in china? china's media is so heavily regulated they wouldn't allow such a clip to go viral! Have you not seen how Africans were treated in China during the pandemic? do you not know of China’s Crackdown On Muslims? do you not know about the abusive control of the south china sea? Don't get me started on the BLM movement.

    DIckie Bird Sunday, 14 June 2020 03:56 PM

    In SL such things happen for a valid reason

    sss Sunday, 14 June 2020 05:11 PM

    the community has another hero who fell asleep on the fast food restaurant drive through

    ninith wonder if sri lanka Sunday, 14 June 2020 06:33 PM

    "what will be the reaction if happened in SRILANKA" - in our wonder of Asia this does not happen ! - Either he tries to pull out a knive for which he is shot DEAD or for similar stories - even the shooting is so accurate when he runs his legs get saved but not his life.

    Ramesh Kanth Sunday, 14 June 2020 06:45 PM

    Will this ever happen in Sri Lanka?

    Sinna Sunday, 14 June 2020 10:19 PM

    Cop must know clearly shooting another black man would !ake the situation worse, Better, remove fire arms from police officers,

    dara Sunday, 14 June 2020 10:26 PM

    These officers need better training,they should fire, only as the last resort to save own life,no patience at all,like undiplomatic, US diplomat,who visited Srilanka recently

    Lanka Sunday, 14 June 2020 10:30 PM

    But, why is this making news in Sri Lanka? Where is Atlanta? Where is Sri Lanka. Doesn't make sense!

    Antony Jude Monday, 15 June 2020 10:40 AM

    This is a quality of a leader. But this will never happen in Srilanka. Srilankan leaders should learn from this and change themselves.


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