Atlanta Police Chief Resigns After Officer Shoots and Kills Man Outside Wendy's

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Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields is stepping down from the role, a move that comes less than 24 hours after an officer shot and killed a man authorities claim was resisting arrest. The incident occurred less than two weeks after officers were caught on camera violently pulling college students from a car after a protest.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a Saturday press conference the decision to step aside was Shields' and the mayor said she accepted the resignation, CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL reports. Bottoms said the former chief will remain with the city in a role that has yet to be determined. 

"Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief," Shields said in a statement Saturday. "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."

On Friday, a 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police in Atlanta, Georgia, after resisting arrest, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI). The GBI said it was asked by the Atlanta Police Department to investigate the incident. 

A press release from the agency said Atlanta police were called to a Wendy's drive-thru late Friday night after receiving a complaint that the driver of a vehicle in the drive-thru had fallen asleep, forcing customers to drive around him. When police arrived around 10:30 p.m. they performed a sobriety test on Brooks.

According to police, Brooks failed the test and then resisted arrest. He allegedly struggled with officers outside the fast-food restaurant. 

"A field sobriety test was performed on the male subject. After failing the test, the officers attempted to place the male subject into custody," reads the press release. "During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued. The officer deployed a Taser."

Brooks was allegedly shot after he took an officer's taser. The officer who fired the fatal shot has not been identified.

"Witnesses report that during the struggle the male subject grabbed and was in possession of the Taser. It has also been reported that the male subject was shot by an officer in the struggle over the Taser," according to the GBI statement. 

Later in the day, the GBI said it had reviewed new footage of the incident that shows "Brooks obtained one of the officer's Tasers and began to flee from the scene."

"Officers pursued Brooks on foot and, during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks. A copy of this video will be released to the public," the GBI wrote Saturday on Twitter.

According to the agency, "an earlier account" of the incident "was based on the officer's body cam, which was knocked off during the physical struggle, preventing the capture of the entire shooting incident."

Brooks was taken to a local hospital where he died after surgery, according to the GBI. One officer was treated for an injury and discharged from the hospital.

Bottoms said she does not "believe that this was a justified use of deadly force," and said the officer who fired the shot should be fired. 

The deadly shooting comes just two weeks after multiple Atlanta police officers were fired and charged over a dramatic incident involving two college students who were yanked from a car stuck in traffic during a George Floyd protest against racial inequality and police brutality on May 30. The officers used a stun gun on the driver and passenger. Footage of the incident was broadcast live by CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Brooks' death marks the 48th officer-involved shooting the GBI has been asked to investigate this year alone.

The agency said it "will continue its independent investigation" into the incident, adding, "once completed, the case will be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney's Office for review."

Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. said in a statement Saturday that his office has "already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident."

"Members of the Fulton County District Attorney's Office 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," reads the statement.

Earlier Saturday, the Georgia NAACP created a petition calling for Atlanta's Police Chief Erika Shields to be terminated. In addition to listing Brooks and the May 30 incident, the petition also names two other recent examples of police brutality. One of the incidents, the 2016 fatal shooting of Jamarion Robinson — another unarmed black man — involved one of the same officers charged in the May incident, WGCL-TV reports. 

"This uprising has been a result of the inabilities of elected officials to ensure proper judgment necessary to arrest, indict, and convict officers who repeatedly murder innocent, unarmed Black bodies," reads the NAACP petition. 

This article was originally published on CBSNews.com on June 13, 2020.

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