Atlanta Police Chief Resigns Following Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting of Black Man

via Getty Images

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned on Saturday following Friday’s fatal officer-involved shooting of a black man, attributing the decision to her “deep and abiding love for this City and this department.”

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) on Saturday announced that Shields offered to immediately step down “so that the city may move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our community” and praised her as a “solid member of APD for over two decades.”

Shields said in a statement:

For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest women and men in the Atlanta Police Department. Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. 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.

The mayor said former Assistant Police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as the interim chief following Shields’ resignation.

Shields’ decision follows the officer-involved shooting death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, which occurred Friday night.

Police responded to a complaint of a man who had purportedly fallen asleep in a Wendy’s drive thru, “causing other customers to drive around the vehicle,” according to the George Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident. Police attempted to take him into custody after he failed a field sobriety test, but a struggle ensued, leading to an officer deploying a taser.

According to GBI’s Saturday statement on the incident, Brooks maintained control of the officer’s taser, attempted to flee the scene, and “turned and pointed the taser at the officer.”

“The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks,” GBI detailed.

Brooks was transferred to the hospital and died after surgery. Video footage of the incident will be released to the public, GBI added.

NPR notes that authorities “have not identified Brooks’ race, though widely circulated video on social media shows a black man grappling with two police officers before running away with one of their Tasers.”

Bottoms has since called for the immediate termination of the officer who shot Brooks and emphasized that she does not consider the officer’s action a “justified use of deadly force.”

“While there may be debate whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” Bottoms said:

“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” the mayor said.

Rioters took to the streets in Atlanta on Saturday evening amid increasing racial unrest, ignited by the May 25 death of George Floyd. Videos show protesters blocking major roads and setting the Wendy’s, where the incident occurred, ablaze:

“You can’t have it both ways in law enforcement,” L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks’ family said, according WRAL.

“You can’t say a Taser is a nonlethal weapon … but when an African American grabs it and runs with it, now it’s some kind of deadly, lethal weapon that calls for you to unload on somebody,” Stewart added.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.