- Protesters blocked a highway and set fire to the Wendy's where Brooks' killing occurred.
- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Shields' resignation.
- “You can’t shoot somebody unless they are pointing a gun at you,” Brooks' family attorney said.
A new case, similar to the killing of George Floyd, has broken out in Atlanta, Georgia. Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year old African-American, was shot dead by a police officer during an arrest on Friday night. The responsible officer, Garrett Rolfe, was fired and police chief Erika Shields resigned.
However, that was not enough, as hundreds of protesters continued with demonstrations and even blocked a highway during the night. The Wendy’s fast food restaurant, where the young man was killed, was torched.
The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose name is among those being considered as Joe Biden’s possible running mate in the race to the White House, announced Shields’ resignation. She had led the Atlanta Police Department for over 20 years. “Chief Erica Shields has been a solid member of APD for over two decades, and has a deep and abiding love for the people of Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a statement.
“And because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as Police Chief so that the city may move forward with urgency and rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities.”
The Atlanta protests are the latest in a wave of nationwide demonstrations against police violence and racism after the death of George Floyd, an African-American who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis during an arrest.
Brooks had fallen asleep in his car in the Wendy’s drive through, and restaurant staff called the police because the vehicle was blocking other customers. Brooks was drunk and resisted the arrest, a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reads. However, the dynamics remain to be clarified.
According to some witnesses, a sobriety test hadn’t been conducted on him. From the images shot with a cell phone by a woman in a car and broadcast on CNN, Brooks is seen fighting with the two officers, then snatching the officer’s taser and attempting to escape on foot.
At that point the policemen chase him. The images, for a moment, lose sight of Brooks, but one of the policemen fires at the man, with shots that are clearly heard.
Immediately afterward, the African-American reappears in the footage, lying on the ground in agony. He died shortly afterward while in hospital. According to the policemen, the man had aimed the taser at one of them, and ended up being shot down.
However, according to a victim’s family lawyer, there was no reason to shoot him. Instead, the attorney argues that the police officer had no right to use deadly force. as the taser, which Mr. Brooks had grabbed, was a non-lethal weapon. “You can’t shoot somebody unless they are pointing a gun at you,” attorney Chris Stewart said.
The images of the fast food restaurant completely engulfed in flames ended up in several media outlets, and revived protests against police violence. After Floyd’s death, Atlanta had already been the scene of violent clashes. Six officers had ended up under investigation for violence against two students, and two had been fired.
The situation was back under control until the current incident. Following the Brooks murder, at least 36 arrests have so far been made, as announced by a police spokesman. The police officers fired tear gas at the demonstrators, and closed a highway after the Wendy’s fast-food restaurant was set on fire.