Atlanta police officer sacked after fatal shooting of black man

14 June 2020, 13:45

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot and killed on Friday night
Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot and killed on Friday night. Picture: PA
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

An Atlanta police officer has been sacked following the fatal shooting of a black man outside a restaurant.

Garrett Rolfe, who was hired in 2013, was dismissed while his colleague Devin Bronsan, who joined the force in 2018, was placed on administrative duty, according to a release from police spokesman Sergeant John Chafee.

The police department chose to release body camera and dash-camera footage from both officers.

It follows the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who stepped down as the Friday night killing of Rayshard Brooks, 27, sparked a new wave of protests in Atlanta.

It comes after the death of African American George Floyd who was killed after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Mr Floyd's death sparked protests against police brutality and racial inequality across the US and the rest of the world.

Garrett Rolfe was fired following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks
Garrett Rolfe was fired following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Picture: PA

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the police chief's resignation at a news conference on Saturday afternoon, and called for the immediate dismissal of the officer who opened fire on Mr Brooks.

"I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer," Ms Bottoms said.

She said it was Ms Shields' own decision to step aside as police chief and that she would remain with the city in an undetermined role.

Interim Corrections Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as interim police chief until a permanent replacement is found.

By Saturday evening, protesters had set fire to the Wendy's restaurant where Mr Brooks was fatally shot and blocked traffic on a nearby motorway.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which is investigating the shooting, said the deadly confrontation started with officers responding to a complaint that a man was sleeping in a car blocking the restaurant's drive-thru lane.

Devin Bronsan was placed on administrative duty following the death of Rayshard Brooks
Devin Bronsan was placed on administrative duty following the death of Rayshard Brooks. Picture: PA

The GBI said Mr Brooks failed a sobriety test and then resisted officers' attempts to arrest him.

The Bureau released security camera video of the shooting, which shows a man running from two white police officers as he raises a hand, which is holding an object, towards an officer a few steps behind him.

The officer draws his gun and fires as the man keeps running, then falls to the ground in the car park.

GBI director, Vic Reynolds, said Mr Brooks had grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and appeared to point it at the officer as he fled, prompting the officer to reach for his gun and fire an estimated three shots.

The security camera video recorded Brooks "running or fleeing from Atlanta police officers", Mr Reynolds said. "It appears that he has in his hand a Taser."

The footage does not show Mr Brooks' initial struggle with police.

Mr Brooks died after being taken to an Atlanta hospital. One of the officers was treated for unspecified injuries and then released.

L Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr Brooks' family, said the officer who shot him should be charged with "an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder".

"You can't have it both ways in law enforcement," Mr Stewart said. "You can't say a Taser is a non-lethal weapon... but when an African-American grabs it and runs with it, now it's some kind of deadly, lethal weapon that calls for you to unload on somebody."

Mr Brooks was a father of four and had celebrated his daughter's eighth birthday on Friday before he was killed.