Atlanta police chief resigns after fatal police shooting
ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta's chief of police resigned Saturday after an officer killed a black man in a fight after a sobriety test. The authorities said the killed man grabbed an officer's taser but ran away when he was shot.
Police chief Erika Shields resigned when the assassination of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta sparked a new wave of protests after turbulent demonstrations abated after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
On Saturday evening, demonstrators set fire to Wendy's restaurant, where Brooks was fatally shot the night before and blocked traffic on a nearby freeway.
The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, announced the resignation of the chief of police at a press conference on Saturday afternoon. The mayor also called for the immediate release of the unidentified officer who opened the fire in Brooks.
"I don't think this was a justified use of lethal violence, and I asked for the officer to be fired immediately," Bottoms said.
She said it was Shield's own decision to step down as police chief and remain in the city in an indefinite role. Chief Corrective Officer Rodney Bryant would act as a provisional chief of police until a permanent replacement is found.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shootout, said the deadly confrontation started with officials who responded to a complaint that a man was sleeping in a car that blocked the restaurant's thoroughfare. The GBI said Brooks failed a field sobriety test and then resisted the officials' attempts to arrest him.
The GBI released a surveillance camera video of the shoot on Saturday. The footage shows a man running away from two white policemen as he raises a hand holding an object toward a policeman a few steps behind him. The officer draws his gun and shoots while the man continues to run. Then he falls to the ground in the parking lot.
GBI director Vic Reynolds said Brooks grabbed a taser from one of the officers and pointed it at the officer when he fled, asking the officer to reach for his gun and fire an estimated three shots.
The video with the surveillance camera recorded Brooks "escaping or fleeing from Atlanta police officers," said Reynolds. "It seems he has a taser in his hand."
The footage does not show Brooks' initial fight with the police.
L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks' family, said the officer who shot him should be charged with "unjustified use of deadly violence that is tantamount to murder."
"You can't have two-way law enforcement," said Stewart. "You can't say that a taser is a non-lethal weapon ... but if an African American grabs it and runs with it, it's kind of deadly now." , deadly weapon that asks you to unload someone. "
He said Brooks had four children and celebrated a daughter's eighth birthday on Friday before he was killed.
The shootout took place at a time of growing tensions over police brutality and called for reforms in the United States after Floyd's death in Minneapolis on May 25. Atlanta was one of the US cities where a large number of demonstrators took to the streets.
Protesters, including members of Brooks' family, gathered outside the restaurant where he was shot on Saturday.
Among the protesters was Crystal Brooks, who said she was Rayshard Brooks' sister-in-law.
"He didn't harm anyone," she said. "The police went to the car and even though the car was parked, they pulled him out of the car and started arguing with him."
She added: "He grabbed the taser, but he just grabbed the taser and ran."
Shields, Atlanta's chief of police for less than four years, was initially praised in the days after Floyd's death last month. She said the Minnesota officials involved should go to jail and go to the crowd of demonstrators in downtown Atlanta to tell the demonstrators that they understand their frustrations and fears. She appeared at Bottom's side when the mayor passionately urged the demonstrators to go home when things got violent with broken shop windows and burning police cruisers.
Days later, Shields fired two officers and put three other people on a bench that was videotaped on May 30 in a hostile confrontation with two college students whose cars were stuck in traffic after the protests. The officers fired Taser at the couple and pulled them out of the vehicle. When the prosecutor later indicted six of the officers involved, Shields openly questioned the indictment.
The shooting of Brooks two weeks later raised further questions about the Atlanta division. In a statement, Shields said that she had chosen to resign "out of deep and constant love for this city and this department."
"It is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve," said Shields.
Reynolds said his agents would forward the results of their investigation to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office will decide whether to bring criminal charges against any of the unidentified officials.
Howard said on Saturday that his office had "already launched an intensive, independent investigation into the incident" without waiting for the GBI's results.
Brooks died after being taken to an Atlanta hospital. One of the officers was treated and released for unspecified injuries.
Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Associate press clerk Pat Eaton-Robb of Hartford, Connecticut contributed to this report.
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