US police chief resigns after black man 'sleeping in car' fatally shot
Atlanta's police chief has resigned today, after a black man was fatally shot by officers in a struggle following a field sobriety test.
The slain man had grabbed an officer's Taser, but was running away when he was shot, according to authorities.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields at a news conference today, as roughly 150 protesters marched outside the Wendy's restaurant where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks died late last night.
The mayor also said she called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire at 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 Chief Shields' own decision to step aside as police chief and that she would remain with the city in an undetermined role.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 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-through lane.
The GBI said Mr Brooks failed a field sobriety test and then resisted officers' attempts to arrest him.
The GBI released security camera video of the shooting today.
The footage shows a man running from two police officers as he raises a hand, which is holding some type of object, toward 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 parking lot.
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.
"In a circumstance like this where an officer is involved in the use of deadly force, the public has a right to know what happened," GBI Director Vic Reynolds told a news conference on a day when protesters gathered at the scene of the shooting and in other areas of Atlanta.
The security camera video does not show Mr Brooks' the initial struggle with police.
The shooting came at a time of heightened tension over police brutality and calls for reforms across the US following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Atlanta was among US cities where large crowds of protesters took to the streets.
A crowd of demonstrators gathered today outside the Atlanta restaurant where Brooks was shot.
Gerald Griggs, an attorney and a vice president of Atlanta's NAACP chapter, estimated there were 150 people protesting at the scene as he walked with them this afternoon.
"The people are upset," Mr Griggs said.
"They want to know why their dear brother Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed when he was merely asleep on the passenger side and not doing anything."
Even though Mr Brooks struggled with officers, Mr Griggs said, "they could have used nonlethal force to take him down".
Mr Reynolds said his agents worked through the night interviewing witnesses and reviewing video.
He said their findings show that Mr Brooks tried to fight off two officers when they tried to arrest him and at one point managed to take a Taser away from one of them.
A security camera recorded Mr Brooks "running or fleeing from Atlanta police officers", Mr Reynolds said.
"It appears that he has in his hand a Taser."
During a short foot chase Mr Brooks "turns around and it appears at that time he points a Taser at an Atlanta officer", Mr Reynolds said. That's when the officer drew his gun and shot Mr Brooks, he said, estimating the officer fired three times.
Atlanta Deputy Police Chief Timothy Peek told reporters late yesterday that both officers deployed their Tasers in an attempt to subdue the suspect but were unable to "stop the aggression of the fight".
Mr Reynolds said his agents will turn over results of their investigation to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office will decide whether criminal charges are warranted against either of the officers.
Mr Howard said today his office had already gotten involved.
"My office has already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident," Mr Howard said in a statement, saying members of his staff "were on scene shortly after the shooting, and we have been in investigative sessions ever since to identify all of the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident".
Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who gained national prominence running for governor in 2018, tweeted today of the shooting that "sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death".
"The killing of #RayshardBrooks in Atlanta last night demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force," Ms Abrams' tweet said.
"Yes, investigations must be called for – but so too should accountability."
The officers involved in the shooting were not identified.
Mr Brooks died after being taken to an Atlanta hospital. One of the officers was treated and released for unspecified injuries.