Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Saturday afternoon (June 13) that police chief Erika Shields is stepping down after an officer allegedly shot and killed Rayshard Brooks during an arrest attempt less than 24 hours ago.
Bottoms says she accepted Shields’ resignation and will launch a national search for her replacement.
“Chief Erika 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 during a press conference. “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.”
Assistant police Chief Rodney Bryant will reportedly serve as the interim chief while Shields’ new role in the department is “to be determined.”
Bottoms also said the unnamed officer who shot Brooks was immediately terminated after the troubling incident.
“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,” she also said during the presser. “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”
Rayshard Brooks, an Atlanta resident, was reportedly shot and killed by police on Friday (June 12) during a struggle with officers in a Wendy’s drive-thru line.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, the incident began at around 10:30 p.m. outside the fast food chain on University Avenue. Officers were then called to the restaurant after receiving a complaint about a man asleep in his vehicle, which forced other customers to go around his car to buy food at the window.
The 27-year-old was subsequently given a field sobriety test, which GBI claims he failed.
“After failing the test, the officers attempted to place the male subject into custody,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. “During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued. The officer deployed a Taser.”
Police then claim Brooks managed to take the Taser away from an officer before being shot. He was taken to the hospital and later died.
Cellphone video captured by a Wendy’s customer appears to show two officers struggling with Brooks on the ground in the barking lot before he’s seen running away from police prior to being shot.
Friday’s incident comes amidst nationwide protest over police brutality, which was sparked by George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police.
Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin on May 25. Four former officers have since been arrested and charged for their involvement in the 46-year-old’s death, including Chauvin, who was initially charged with third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
On Wednesday (June 3), Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison upgraded the charges against Chauvin to Second Degree murder for the death of Floyd on and also charged the three other officers involved, J Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane with aiding and abetting murder. The three officers were fired and have remained under investigation since the day after Floyd died.