Atlanta's Police Chief Has Stepped Down Over the Killing of Rayshard Brooks

Gabrielle Bruney
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images

From Esquire

Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images

For weeks, Americans have been protesting across the nation, chanting the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and urging for radical change to a policing culture that has time and again demonstrated indifference to the sanctity of black people's lives. And even in the midst of this uprising, another black American, 27-year-old father-of-three Rayshard Brooks, was killed by police.

Just a few months ago, killings like these were often greeted with obfuscation and stonewalling by authorities—just look at the case of Eric Garner, who was killed by a police officer who never faced charges and remained on the force for five years after Garner's death. But within 24 hours of Brooks's death, the officer who shot him was fired, his killing was condemned by the city's mayor, and the local police chief stepped down from her post.

Police were called Friday night after Brooks fell asleep at a Wendy's drive-through in Atlanta. According to video footage of the encounter, he attempted to run from the responding officers, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, after failing a sobriety test, and took one of the officers' Tasers before being shot by Rolfe while running away. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Protestors against the killing began shortly after the shooting. On Saturday night, demonstrators blocked part of a local interstate, while the Wendy's restaurant was in flames.

“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,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a press conference. “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”

Less than a day after the shooting, Rolfe was fired and Brosnan placed on administrative duty, while Atlanta's Police Chief Erika Shields announced that she would resign from her role. No charges have yet been filed against the officers involved, though the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the killing and offer its findings to the local District Attorney.

On Saturday, a cousin of Brooks, Decatur Redd, spoke to reporters. "I don't know how to do this because I never knew that I was going to have to do this," he said. "I've watched this on the internet, from the whole George Floyd situation to us coming together like we're doing and this whole thing landed on my doorstep with my little cousin."

"We've been watching this happen for so many years, with young black boys around the country just dying in vain," he continued. "I just don't want that to continue and keep happening like that."

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