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Atlanta erupts after Rayshard Brooks death prompts police chief to step down

By Fabrice Pierre-Toussaint

Staff Writer for Telegraph Local | See my LinkedIn

Protests and violence originated in Atlanta on Saturday night in response to police-involved shooting death of a 27 year old man outside of a Wendy’s fast food.

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Television images showed the Wendy’s on fire around 9:30 p.m. ET as rioters filled the parking lot where Brooks was shot in the back by police as he fled after allegedly grabbing a stun gun away from an officer during a struggle.

Early Sunday, around 4 a.m. ET, the Wendy’s was seen burning again, Atlanta’s WGCL-TV reported.

Smaller fires were also seen in the area Saturday night.

Nearby, protesters gathered along University Avenue, with Atlanta police blocking access ramps to Interstate 85, apparently to keep the protesters off the roadway, FOX 5 of Atlanta reported.

As the unrest continued, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed it had taken action against two police officers in connection with Brooks’ death. Officer Garrett Rolfe, a veteran of more than six years with the force, was fired, and Officer Devin Bronsan, with the department since 2018, was placed on administrative duty, WSB-TV of Atlanta reported.

Sources from MSN.com, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that police Chief Erika Shields had resigned from the top job, though the mayor said Shields would remain with the department.

“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said.

Protesters had painted “Defund the police” in the street outside Atlanta police headquarters.

The unrest in Atlanta came as the entire nation continued to be in a state of disruption regarding police relationships with African-Americans and other minority communities following the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

In the Atlanta incident, police had been called late Friday about a man allegedly sleeping in a car that was blocking a Wendy’s restaurant drive-thru. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was investigating reports that the man, later identified as Brooks, had failed a sobriety test and was shot in a struggle over the stun gun.

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who gained national prominence running for governor in 2018, tweeted that “sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement saying the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe of the incident that led to Brooks’s death.

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“I am confident GBI Director Vic Reynolds and his team will follow the facts to ensure justice is served,” Kemp wrote.

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