Atlanta Police killing of Rayshard Brooks leads to officer’s firing and chief’s resignation

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot dead by an officer Friday night at a Wendy’s drive-through in the city.

(CNN) — A white Atlanta Police officer shot and killed a black man after an attempted arrest on Friday night, sparking renewed protests in the city, the officer’s firing and the police chief’s resignation.

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot dead by an officer Friday night at a Wendy’s drive-through in the city after they moved to handcuff him for suspected driving under the influence, according to videos from the scene.

Surveillance video and bystander video show that Brooks took an officer’s Taser during the attempted arrest and then fired the Taser at the officers as he ran away. One officer then fatally shot Brooks with his service weapon, authorities said.

The killing had rapid repercussions in Atlanta, one of many cities where protesters have called for an end to police violence and racism in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she did not believe Brooks’ death was a justified use of deadly force.

“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” Bottoms said Saturday.

Bottoms also said that Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who has led the police since 2016, was stepping down.

The officer who killed Brooks was terminated Saturday, police spokesman Carlos Campos said. He was identified by police as Garrett Rolfe. A second officer involved in the killing, identified as Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty, Campos said.

Rolfe was hired in 2013 and Brosnan has been with the department since 2018, police said.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN his office will decide around Wednesday whether to bring charges, which could include murder or felony murder.

“(Brooks) did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable,” Howard said.

“If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save that officer’s life or prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law,” he added.

Brooks has three daughters who are 1, 2 and 8 years old, and he also has a 13-year-old stepson, according to his attorneys. Earlier in the day, Brooks had spent time with his oldest daughter ahead of a planned birthday party on Saturday.

How the fatal shooting unfolded

The incident began when police responded to a call Friday night about a man sleeping in a parked vehicle in the Wendy’s drive-through lane, causing other customers to drive around it, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

When Brosnan arrives to the scene, Brooks is asleep behind the wheel in the drive-through lane, according to his body camera video. Footage from both officers’ body cameras and from their vehicles shows them speaking with Brooks for nearly 30 minutes outside the Wendy’s.

Brooks says he does not have any weapons on him and the officers pat him down to confirm as much, the videos show. Howard said their interaction was “cordial” and noted that Brooks answered the officers’ questions.

After Brooks takes a breathalyzer test, one officer tells him to put his hands behind his back and they move to handcuff him, the videos show.

Brooks then resists the arrest and begins struggling with the officers as they tussle on the ground for about 30 seconds, according to videos from the scene.

“Stop fighting! Stop fighting!” an officer says, according to audio from the body camera.

During the struggle, Brooks grabs an officer’s Taser, escapes their grasp and starts running away from the two, the videos show.

“He’s got my f—ing Taser,” an officer says, according to the body camera footage.

Surveillance video provided by the GBI shows Brooks running from the officers, and he appears to point the stun gun in their direction before falling to the ground. He was shot and taken to the hospital, where he died, the GBI says. An officer was treated for an injury and released.

The GBI kicked off an investigation into the incident at the request of the Atlanta Police Department, officials said Saturday. Once that investigation is completed, the case will be turned over to prosecutors.

An attorney for Brooks’ family, L. Chris Stewart, said that officers did not have to shoot Brooks and noted that the Taser is intentionally not a deadly weapon.

“If the officer had been a bit more empathetic and a bit less scared, we probably wouldn’t have a dead client,” he said.

Wendy’s set ablaze

The shooting reignited the anger and frustration undergirding the mass protests over the past few weeks. The Wendy’s where the shooting took place was set aflame on Saturday night, and in another part of the city, a major interstate was shut down after protesters marched onto a connector and were met by lined up police vehicles.

“I just want to make enough noise that they investigate the situation,” one protester told WSB. A large crowd remained on the streets of southwest Atlanta into early Sunday morning, the news station said, facing off with police.

At least 36 people were arrested during the protests, an Atlanta police spokesman told CNN.

“I was very disturbed with what happened,” protester Marquavian Odom told CNN. “This is something that keeps happening over and over again. We’ve been protesting about George Floyd and I thought there was going to be a change, but there wasn’t a change, it was still the same old thing.”

“I thought the message was clear, but obviously we’re still not heard,” Odom said.

Crime Stoppers of Atlanta is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment for those involved in the Wendy’s fire.

Mixed reaction from politicians

The officers involved in Floyd’s death have been charged and have faced near-unanimous criticism, but the immediate reaction to Brooks’ killing was more mixed.

Democratic South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and one of the leading African American members of Congress, said he was “very incensed” over the shooting.

“This did not call for lethal force,” Clyburn said.

“I don’t know what’s in the culture that would make this guy do that,” he said, referring to the now-fired officer.

However, US Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate’s only African American Republican, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Brooks’ killing was “far less clear” than Floyd’s death.

Similarly, Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Dr. Ben Carson said the police killing was “not clear cut.”

“We don’t know what was in the mind of the officer when somebody turns around and points a weapon at him,” Carson told “Fox News Sunday.” “Is he absolutely sure that’s a nonlethal weapon? You know, this is not a clear-cut circumstance.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of the officer placed on administrative duty. It is Devin Brosnan.

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