A white Atlanta Police officer shot and killed a black man, Rayshard Brooks after an altercation 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. Surveillance video and bystander video from the scene show that Brooks took an officer’s Taser during an attempted arrest and then fired the Taser at the officers as he ran away. One officer then shot Brooks with his service weapon, authorities said.
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The killing, in the midst of nationwide protests calling to end racism and police violence against black people, had rapid repercussions. Less than a day later, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she did not believe this 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.
“I have faith in the mayor, and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Shields said in a statement.
The officer who killed Rayshard 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.
In Atlanta, protesters started gathering after Brooks was shot, but tensions escalated Saturday night, when larger crowds congregated in the area surrounding the Wendy’s where the shooting occurred. Some shattered the store’s glass, CNN’s Natasha Chen reported.
By nightfall, the fast-food eatery was engulfed in flames. It took firefighters more than an hour to approach the building as it was surrounded by protesters, CNN affiliate WSB reported.
“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.
A major interstate was also shut down after protesters marched onto a connector and were met by lined up police vehicles.
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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.”