Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms didn’t hesitate to replace her police chief and announce her push to remove city police officers involved in the shooting death of an unarmed Black man near a Wendy’s restaurant.
Bottoms held a news conference Saturday where she announced that she had accepted the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields and replaced her on an interim basis with former assistant police Chief Rodney Bryant.
“I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force, and I have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” the mayor said during a hastily called news conference.
“What has become abundantly clear over the couple of weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities they are entrusted to protect,” Bottoms said.
Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot after police were called to Wendy’s on a complaint about a man sleeping in a vehicle in the drive-thru lane. As police attempted to arrest Brooks, he allegedly resisted and a struggle ensued, according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).
“During the course of that confrontation, Mr. Brooks was able to secure from one of the Atlanta officers, his Taser,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds offered during a news conference.
The incident was captured on video, and reports suggest that Brooks appears to run from the officers with the Taser in his hand.
After running a short distance, Brooks “turns around, and it appears to the eye that he points the Taser at the Atlanta officer,” Reynolds said.
“At that point, the Atlanta officer reaches down and retrieves his weapon from his holster, discharges it, strikes Mr. Brooks there on the parking lot, and he goes down,” he added.
In a statement, the Georgia NAACP said the Atlanta Police Department has “a history of antagonizing our Black communities” and that the city “must address this not only with their words but also with their actions and budgetary decisions.”
“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,” the NAACP wrote in a statement. “The Atlanta Police Department continues to terrorize protesters and murder unarmed Black bodies. It’s time for new leadership and a change of policing culture.”
The names of the officers involved, including the one who fired the fatal shots, have not been released.