GA protests turn violent after man is shot to death by police
Attorney representing the Brooks family says 'I don't know what justice is anymore"
(ABC News) —The fatal shooting of an Atlanta man by a city police officer at a fast-food restaurant late Friday night launched a day of protests and the resignation of the department’s highest-ranking official on Saturday.
Officials have identified the man as 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks.
At 10:33 p.m. local time, officers responded to a Wendy’s restaurant on University Avenue after receiving a complaint that Brooks was asleep in a parked car in the drive-thru, authorities said. After failing a field sobriety test, officers said they attempted to place him into custody. It was at that point, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that Brooks resisted and a struggle ensued.
Surveillance video from the restaurant shows that during a physical struggle with police, Brooks obtained one of the officer’s stun guns and began to flee, GBI said in a statement Saturday afternoon.
“Video appears to show to the naked eye Brooks running away four, five, six, seven parking spaces before he appears to turn around and point a Taser at an officer. At that point the officer retrieves his weapon from his holster and discharges it, striking Brooks. This account has been corroborated by witness interviews,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds.
A copy of the video was released to the public Saturday afternoon.
Just hours after the shooting, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields submitted her resignation to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Shields had led the department since December 2016.
“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.”
An earlier account of the incident was based on the officer’s bodycam, which was knocked off during the physical struggle, preventing the capture of the entire shooting incident, GBI said.
Brooks was taken to a local hospital, where he died after emergency surgery. Brooks was the father of three daughters, as well as a stepson. He had been celebrating his 8-year-old daughter’s birthday earlier in the day, his family lawyer said.
One officer was treated for an injury sustained during the encounter, but has already been released from the hospital, according to GBI.
Once the GBI concludes its investigation, the case will be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, which intends to conduct its own probe.
“I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” Bottoms said in a press conference regarding the officer’s actions. “I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”
The other officer has been placed on administrative duty.
Friday night’s deadly encounter with police led to large groups gathering and protesting at the scene, chanting Brooks’ name. Protesters appeared to start a large fire in the Wendy’s building where Brooks was shot late Saturday.
Attorney L. Chris Stewart, who is representing Brooks’ family, stressed in a Saturday night press conference that the officers involved had other options and did not need to kill Brooks.
“I’ve had cases where officers have used Tasers … and they argue with us that Tasers are not deadly,” Stewart said. “You can’t say he ran off with a weapon that could kill somebody when you say it’s not deadly.”
District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. is asking anyone who witnessed, photographed or took any videos of the incident to call their office’s tip hotline 404-612-4903.
This is the 48th officer-involved shooting the GBI has been requested to investigate this year. Those 48 cases include the fatal shootings of 15 people.
“Are you not tired of seeing cases like this happen?” Stewart asked. “People are sick of watching black men murdered.”
Reynolds has asked agents to expedite the investigation “due to the nature of the case in the current environment we’re living in today.”
A frustrated Stewart asked,
“I don’t know what justice is anymore. Is it getting [the officer] arrested? Is it getting somebody fired? Is it the chief stepping down? I know that this isn’t justice, what’s happening in this country right now.”
Floyd was killed after an officer pressed his knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes. During the gruesome video, Floyd can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”
That video and Floyd’s death sparked widespread protests again racism and police brutality throughout the U.S. Major demonstrations, including protesters taking over a precinct in Seattle, are continuing this weekend as many are calling for significant police reforms.
ABC News’ Matt Foster, Josh Hoyos and J. Gabriel Ware contributed to this report