The chief of police in Atlanta has resigned less than 24 hours after cops fatally shot a man whom investigators say grabbed an officer’s taser and pointed it as he fled from police.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned on Saturday following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, 27, outside of a Wendy’s drive-thru late on Friday night.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Shield’s resignation, saying the city’s top cop offered to ‘immediately step aside as police chief so that the city may move forward, with urgency, in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities.’
Meanwhile, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has released new surveillance footage of the moment of the fatal shooting, which has already drawn massive protests and allegations of racism and police brutality.
Atlanta police were called to the restaurant on a complaint that a man was sleeping in a car blocking the drive-thru lane as customers waited in line. Police say he failed a field sobriety test and then began to fight as the officers tried to arrest him.
Previously released bystander video showed Brooks grappling with two officers on the pavement, throwing punches, and grabbing one of the officer’s tasers. The other officer fires his taser at Brooks, which appears to have no effect, and Brooks sprints away.
The newly released surveillance video shows Brooks fleeing across the parking lot from officers, and turning and pointing something at the police, which the GBI said was the stolen police taser.
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Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned on Saturday following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, 27, outside of a Wendy’s drive-thru late on Friday night
New surveillance video released by GBI shows Brooks (circled, right) fleeing towards the right hand side of the image as he is pursued by two officers. Both Brooks and the officer immediately behind him are seen holding police tasers with illumination
Brooks (far right) appears to turn and point the stolen taser, as one officer takes cover by the red car and the second officer pursues from the far left of the image
Brooks drops the the ground, out of sight behind the silver sedan, as police open fire on him
Previously released bystander video shows Brooks in a scuffle as officers tried to take him into custody in a parking lot of a Wendy’s on University Avenue at around 10:30pm on Friday.
Brooks is seen in the video getting away from the grasp of two police officers and running away from them in the parking lot. He managed to take a Taser from one of the officers before trying to run away.
One of the officers is seen getting up and giving chase with what appears to be a Taser.
Moments later, gunshots are heard, though Brooks or the officers are not seen at that point in the bystander video.
The shooting came at a time of heightened tension over police brutality and calls for reforms across the U.S. following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Atlanta was among U.S. cities where large crowds of protesters took to the streets.
A crowd of demonstrators gathered Saturday outside the Atlanta restaurant where Brooks was shot.
Gerald Griggs, an attorney and a vice president of Atlanta’s NAACP chapter, estimated there were 150 people protesting at the scene as he walked with them Saturday afternoon.
‘The people are upset,’ Griggs said. ‘They want to know why their dear brother Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed when he was merely asleep on the passenger side and not doing anything.’
Cell phone video shows Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, wrestling with two white Atlanta police officers near a Wendy’s fast food restaurant in Atlanta late on Friday night
Brooks was resisting arrest as officers tried to take him into custody for allegedly failing a field sobriety test
Brooks is seen getting away from the grasp of one of the police officers during the attempted arrest on Friday
Brooks was seen running off with a Taser he took from one of the officers during the scuffle on Friday night
The officer on the far right is seen aiming his Taser and shooting at Brooks, but it appears to have no effect as Brooks gets away
Moments later, gunshots are heard. Brooks’ body appears to be on the pavement on the far right side of the image above
Shields, the ousted police chief, said in a statement: ‘For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest men and women in the Atlanta Police Department. Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief.’
‘APD has my full support, and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department. 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 continued.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said his agents worked through the night interviewing witnesses and reviewing video.
He said their findings show that Brooks tried to fight off two officers when they tried to arrest him and at one point managed to take a Taser away from one of them.
A security camera recorded Brooks ‘running or fleeing from Atlanta police officers,’ Reynolds said. ‘It appears that he has in his hand a Taser.’
Protesters rally against racial inequality and the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta on Saturday
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Atlanta on Saturday to protest the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks
Protesters march near the Georgia Capitol on Saturday after an overnight Atlanta Police Department officer-involved shooting which left a black man dead at a Wendy’s restaurant
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is probing the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, 27, after a reported struggle with officers ensued during which a Taser was used late Friday
During a short foot chase Brooks ‘turns around and it appears at that time he points a Taser at an Atlanta officer,’ Reynolds said. That’s when the officer drew his gun and shot Brooks, he said, estimating the officer fired three times.
‘In a circumstance like this where an officer is involved in the use of deadly force, the public has a right to know what happened,’ Reynolds said of the decision to quickly release the restaurant surveillance footage.
Atlanta Deputy Police Chief Timothy Peek told reporters late Friday that both officers deployed their Tasers in an attempt to subdue the suspect but were unable to ‘stop the aggression of the fight.’
Reynolds said his agents will turn over results of their investigation to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office will decide whether criminal charges are warranted against either of the officers.
Howard said Saturday his office had already gotten involved.
‘My office has already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident,’ Howard said in a statement, saying members of his staff ‘were on scene shortly after the shooting, and we have been in investigative sessions ever since to identify all of the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.’
Protesters block University Avenue outside the Wendy’s fast food restaurant in Atlanta on Saturday. Hours earlier, a 27-year-old black man was fatally shot by police officers as he was running away
Protesters hold signs which read ‘Black Lives Matter’ outside the Wendy’s on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Several protesters blocked traffic and sat in the middle of the road during the demonstration against police brutality on Saturday
One protester holds a megaphone while chanting slogans near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
There were an estimated 150 demonstrators near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Demonstrators including members of Brooks’ family gathered Saturday outside the restaurant where he was shot.
Police shut down streets for several blocks around the restaurant as protesters marched peacefully in the streets. There was a short, tense standoff with Georgia state troopers who lined up to block protesters as they tried to march onto a nearby interstate highway. The demonstrators eventually turned away.
Among those protesting was Crystal Brooks, who said she is Rayshard Brooks’ sister-in-law.
‘He wasn´t causing anyone any harm,’ she said. ‘The police went up to the car and even though the car was parked they pulled him out of the car and started tussling with him.’
She added: ‘He did grab the Taser, but he just grabbed the Taser and ran.’
Shields, Atlanta’s police chief for less than four years, was initially praised in the days following Floyd´s death last month. She said the Minnesota officers involved should go to prison and walked into crowds of protesters in downtown Atlanta, telling demonstrators she understood their frustrations and fears.
She appeared at Bottoms´ side as the mayor made an impassioned plea for protesters to go home when things turned violent with smashed storefronts and police cruisers set ablaze.
Days later, Shields fired two officers and benched three others caught on video May 30 in a hostile confrontation with two college students whose car was stuck in traffic caused by the protests. The officers shouted at the pair, fired Tasers at them and dragged them from the vehicle. When prosecutors charged six officers with crimes in the incident, however, Shields openly questioned the timing and appropriateness of the charges.
Rayshard Brooks’ killing sparked renewed anger as demonstrators gathered near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters and onlookers take photos with their phones near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Police can be seen in the background as demonstrators gathered near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters gesture at passersby near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
A woman holds a sign which reads ‘We will not be silent’ near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters make their voices heard during a demonstration near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters with cell phones gathered near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
A law enforcement official speaks to demonstrators near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Tensions were running high as protesters expressed their anger near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Demonstrators hold signs and make gestures toward a George state trooper near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
The shooting of Rayshard Brooks is the 48th police-involved shooting being investigated by state authorities in Georgia this year
Protesters chant slogans, hold signs, and walk near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters come face to face with law enforcement officials near the Wendy’s fast food restaurant on University Avenue in Atlanta on Saturday
A group called ‘Israel United in Christ’ protests as they gather at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Saturday
Several protesters at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta protest the police-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks on Saturday
Members of a group called ‘Israel United in Christ’ protest and sign during a demonstration at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta on Saturday
A man holds up a sign which reads ‘Say his name: Rayshard Brooks’ in Atlanta on Saturday
A woman holds up a sign which reads ‘Justice for Rayshard Brooks’ during a demonstration in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters in downtown Atlanta holds signs which read ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Abolish police,’ and ‘Justice for Rayshard Brooks’
Protesters angry over the shooting of Rayshard Brooks gather in Atlanta on Saturday to denounce the police
Ashley Brooks speaks as protesters gather on University Ave near a Wendy’s restaurant on Saturday
A woman holds a sign which reads ‘We must dismantle white supremacy now’ during a demonstration in Atlanta on Saturday
Protesters hold signs which read ‘Defund the police’ as they walk past a mural of George Floyd in Atlanta on Saturday
Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who gained national prominence running for governor in 2018, tweeted Saturday of the shooting that ‘sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death.’
‘The killing of #RayshardBrooks in Atlanta last night demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force,’ Abrams’ tweet said.
‘Yes, investigations must be called for – but so too should accountability.’
The officers involved in the shooting was not identified. Once its investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for review.