Atlanta police shot and killed a 27-year-old Black man late Friday at a Wendy’s drive-thru after a scuffle in which he grabbed an officer’s Taser, tried to run away, and pointed the Taser at the officers.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it’s investigating the incident. The man was identified as 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks,according to a news release.
Less than 24 hours after Brooks’ death, Atlanta’s police chief, Erika Shields, resigned, according to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Brooks’ death prompted immediate outrage amid already heightened tensions across the country between police officers and Black communities.
According to the GBI, Police were dispatched to the fast-food restaurant just after 10:30 p.m. in response to complaints that a man was asleep in his vehicle at the drive-thru, and customers were being forced to drive around Brooks’ vehicle.
Brooks resisted arrest and struggled with officers, one of whom used a Taser on him. Based on witness reports, GBI said that Brooks grabbed the Taser and was shot as he struggled with the officer over the weapon.
In a video from the scene that was shared on Twitter, Brooks can be seen in a struggle with officers. He appears to get a hold of the Taser and fires it at them before running away. Police chase Brooks with a Taser and gun before he is shot outside of the camera’s frame.
Surveillance footage released by the GBI showed Brooks running from the officers while holding the Taser, then pointing it behind him while still running. An officer then shot Brooks.
Brooks was transported to an area hospital for surgery, where he died, GBI said, adding that one of the officers was also wounded in the altercation and has since been discharged from the hospital.
At a press conference Saturday evening, an attorney for Brooks’ family, L. Chris Stewart, denied the GBI’s claim that the officers had conducted a field sobriety test before attempting to arrest Brooks. Stewart also said he had not been blocking the drive-thru line.
Stewart said officers should merely have had a conversation with Brooks if they suspected he had been drinking, and avoided escalating the situation.
“Why was he even under arrest? You want to know how this could have been avoided?” Stewart said. “Talk to him. ‘Hey, buddy, you fell asleep in line, you okay? Why don’t you pull your car over there and call an Uber.’ And then you walk over and then you leave. Why is that so hard for police officers.”
Stewart continued: “He wasn’t doing anything crazy or violent or harming anyone.”
Stewart also condemned the officers for failing to render timely aid to Brooks, alleging the officers picked up shell casings and waited more than two minutes before checking his pulse.
On Saturday night, protesters took to the streets in Atlanta over Brooks’ death. Some shut down the Insterstate 85 highway, and some broke windows and set fire to the Wendy’s where Brooks died. Police also reportedly firedtear gasandsmoke bombsinto crowds of protesters.
Since Memorial Day, thousands of people in Atlanta have protestedthe police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. People have called for justice and an end to racism and police brutality, but there have also beenreports of torched cars and damage to local buildings and businesses.
Six Atlanta police officers were slapped with criminal chargesafter body-worn camera footage showed them yanking a young couple out of a car, using stun guns on them, and smashing the vehicle’s window with a baton.
Ahmaud Arbery was also killed in Georgia. The 25-year-old Black man left his home in Brunswick and set out for a jog on February 23, only to be pursued by a white father-and-son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan. When they caught up with him, Arbery and the younger McMichael got intoan altercation that ended with three shots that killed Arbery.