The Atlanta police chief stepped down Saturday in the wake of the death of a 27-year-old Black man who was shot by an officer while fleeing during a struggle at a Wendy’s drive-thru late Friday night, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Hours later, police and National Guards troops clashed with protesters outside the fast-food restaurant.
Rayshard Brooks had been asleep in his car at the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around the car, the Bureau of Investigation said. Police were dispatched to the Wendy’s around 10:30 p.m., and conducted a sobriety test on Brooks, who failed the test, according to the officials.
“During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued,” the Bureau of Investigation said. “The officer deployed a Taser. 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.”
One officer was treated for an injury and discharged after the confrontation. Brooks died in the hospital after surgery.
Police Chief Erika Shields is immediately stepping down after the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced in a news conference Saturday afternoon. She also called for the termination of the police officer who shot Brooks and for another officer to be placed on administrative duty.
“While there may be debate as to 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. I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said.
Bottoms said Shields would continue in a different role “to be determined” in the police department.
“To the family of Mr. Brooks, there are no words strong enough to express how sincerely sorry I am for your loss. I do hope that you will find some comfort in the swift actions that have been taken today,” she said. Bottoms called Shields a “solid member of APD for over two decades.”
“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 in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our community,” Bottoms said.