Atlanta Protests Escalate After Yet Another Unarmed Black Man Is Killed

by Julie Scagell
Ben Hendren/Getty Images

Rayshard Brooks was sleeping in his car near a Wendy’s drive-thru when someone called police.

An Atlanta police officer has been fired and the chief of police resigned less than 24 hours after Rayshard Brooks was killed by police outside at Wendy’s in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (via CNN) said in a statement that police fatally shot Brooks outside a Wendy’s on Friday, June 12, 2020 after responding to a call of a man sleeping in his car. When officers arrived, they reportedly gave Brooks a sobriety test, which he failed. They stated Brooks then resisted arrest and struggled for one of the officer’s Tasers, which he got ahold of. He broke free and tried running away which is when police shot and killed him. Police bodycam footage from the incident has surfaced online.

Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks and has worked at the Atlanta Police Department since 2013, was immediately terminated and a second officer involved, Devin Bronsan, was placed on administrative leave. Police Chief Erika Shields resigned less than 24 hours after Brooks’ was killed.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for the officer’s termination. “While there may be debate over 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,” Bottoms said at a press conference. “I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”

While some will inevitably say Brooks’ shooting was justified because he was resisting arrest, there are many instances of similar situations involving white people that don’t end with them being shot in the back and killed. Here are just a few.

The shooting set off more protesting over the weekend in Atlanta, a city that was already protesting the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minneapolis police after officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Brooks, 27, has three daughters — one, two, and eight-years-old, according to the family’s attorneys. He also has a 13-year-old stepson. He was due to celebrate his daughter’s eighth birthday the morning he died.

L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for the Brooks family, disagreed with much of the official police report, citing witnesses he’d interviewed. He also said a Taser isn’t considered a deadly weapon under Georgia law, and the officer’s life was not in danger. “He had other options than shooting a man in the back,” Stewart said.

“To the family of Mr. Brooks, there are no words strong enough to express how sincerely sorry I am for your loss,” the mayor said. “I do hope that you will find some comfort in the swift actions we have taken today and the meaningful reforms that our city will implement on behalf of the countless men and women who have lost their lives across this country.”