Less than a day after the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s drive-thru in Atlanta Friday (June 12) night, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.
“For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest women and men in the Atlanta Police Department,” Shields said in a statement Saturday (June 13) evening. “Out of a deep and abiding love for this city and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. APD has my full support, and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department.”
Shields will remain with the department in a role yet to be announced. Former Assistant Police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as interim police chief while they search for a permanent replacement.
Mayor Bottoms also called for the immediate termination of the officer who shot Brooks. According to the mayor, security footage seemed to show Brooks struggling with an officer over a taser after failing a field sobriety test. At some point, he reached for it and allegedly fired it toward the officer, who began to chase him. Another officer then fired his weapon, striking him three times in the back. Mayor Bottoms does not believe that deadly force was justified in this case. A copy of the surveillance footage will be made public soon, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“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,” Bottoms said. “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.”
Atlanta residents are now coming together in protest tonight at the historic Centennial Olympic Park, at the Wendy’s where the fatal shooting of Brooks occurred — the fast food restaurant has since been set on fire — the city’s I-75/85 highway, and more Atlanta areas.
Shields’ resignation comes two weeks after six APD officers were charged for the forceful arrests of two college students sitting in their car during the June 2 George Floyd protests.