Protests escalated in Atlanta on Saturday night (June 13) after another unarmed Black man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by police the night before. Protestors blocked a major interstate highway demanding justice for Brooks, who was 27 years old. Tragically, Brooks would have spent the very next day celebrating his eldest daughter's eighth birthday, according to CNN, but he never made it to pick her up for her birthday party. Brooks also leaves behind two other daughters, ages one and two, as well as a 13-year-old stepson.
In a statement, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that Brooks was found asleep in his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru on University Avenue on Friday night forcing other customers to drive around him, reports CNN.
According to bodycam video, Brooks politely answered officers' questions, admitted to being intoxicated and asked to walk home. Officers, however, claimed that Brooks resisted arrest and somehow was able to break free after obtaining one of the officer’s stun guns. A cell phone video from a witness captured a struggle between two officers and Brooks, who eventually seems to break free and starts running away. According to the ongoing GBI investigation (via Newsweek), Brooks was able to take the Taser away from the officers, pointing it at them from a distance as he ran off.
Surveillance video provided by the GBI shows him running from the officers before falling to the ground. He was shot and taken to the hospital, where he died, the GBI says. One of the officers involved was treated for an injury and later released from the hospital. Brooks was not armed at the time he was fatally shot.
Protesters Respond To The Outrage
Still reeling from the deaths of several unarmed Black people over the last few weeks, protesters took to the streets with their outrage erupting over this latest incident, setting the Wendy’s on fire Saturday night. Surrounded by protestors — though it is not clear who actually set fire to the fast food restaurant — the building burned causing firefighters an hour to get through the crowd to control the flames, according to WSBTV.
As of midnight, Atlanta police said 36 arrests were made Saturday night. Any additional arrests made after midnight will be updated accordingly, a spokesperson said.
Interstate 85, located near the Wendy’s, was also nearly shut down after demonstrators tried to gain access to stop traffic. They were met by a line of police vehicles which were successful in blocking the ramps after deploying the use of tear gas and flash grenades.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Saturday night (June 13) that Erica Shields, the police chief of the Atlanta Police Department had resigned at her request.
"I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer," Bottoms said.
"For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest men and women 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," Shields said.
"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 officer who killed Brooks was later terminated as the Brooks family attorney disputes the official account of the shooting and demands an independent investigation.