Police officer fired after shooting man dead at fast-food restaurant in Atlanta
The police officer who shot dead a black man in the US city of Atlanta has been sacked after protesters set fire to the fast-food restaurant where the man was killed.
- Rayshard Brooks had fallen asleep in his car while waiting to pick up food
- After failing an alcohol test, police say he resisted arrest and took an officer’s taser during a struggle
- Video shared on social media shows Mr Brooks running away from the officers before he is shot and someone yells “I got him!”
Rayshard Brooks, 27, had fallen asleep in his car while waiting in the drive-through lane of a Wendy’s outlet south of the city centre on Friday night.
Police say after failing an alcohol test Mr Brooks resisted arrest and took an officer’s taser during a struggle.
Video of the incident shows Mr Brooks running away from the officers before he is shot.
Police released a statement saying officer Garrett Rolfe had been fired following the shooting.
Another officer involved in the incident, Devin Bronsan, was put on administrative leave.
Both officers are white. The city’s police chief also resigned following the incident.
Dozens of demonstrators took to the streets outside the restaurant on Saturday afternoon local time in a fresh wave of Black Lives Matters protests after video of the incident was shared on social media.
Protesters on Saturday night shut down an interstate highway in both directions and set fire to the Wendy’s restaurant where Mr Brooks was fatally shot the night before.
Images on local television showed the restaurant in flames for more than 45 minutes before fire crews arrived to extinguish the blaze, protected by a line of police officers.
By that time the building was reduced to charred rubble next to a petrol station.
Other demonstrators marched onto a highway, stopping traffic, before police used a line of squad cars to hold them back.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she had accepted the resignation of police chief Erika Shields after the killing, with Rodney Bryant becoming the city’s interim police boss.
Read more about the protests:
She had earlier called for the firing of the officer who allegedly shot Mr Brooks, a father of four who had celebrated his daughter’s eighth birthday on the same day.
Mr Brooks died after being taken to an Atlanta hospital, while one of the two officers involved was treated and released for unspecified injuries.
“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 at a media conference.
“I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do.”
Ms Shields said in a statement that she was quitting as police chief “out of a deep and abiding love for this city and this department”.
“It is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” she said.
Brooks running away from police when he was shot
Authorities said Mr Brooks had taken the policeman’s taser, but was running away when he was shot.
Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the Brooks family, said the officer who shot Mr Brooks should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder”.
“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.”
Investigators said video taken by an eyewitness was aiding their probe into the incident.
It shows Mr Brooks on the ground outside his car, as he struggles with two police officers.
He grabs a taser from one officer and after a few seconds he breaks free from the officers and begins to run.
One officer then uses a taser on him.
They then run out of the frame of the video.
Gunshots are heard along with someone yelling, “I got him!”
The video then shows Mr Brooks prone on the ground.
Protesters gather outside restaurant
Among the demonstrators gathered outside the Wendy’s restaurant on Saturday were members of Mr Brooks’ family, including his sister-in-law Crystal Brooks.
“He wasn’t causing anyone any harm,” she said.
“The police went up to the car and, even though the car was parked, they pulled him out of the car and started tussling with him.”
She added: “He did grab the taser, but he just grabbed the taser and ran.”
‘Independent’ investigation launched
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr said his office had “already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident”, while awaiting the findings of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Stacey Abrams, former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and a possible Democratic vice-presidential pick, weighed into the debate on Twitter.
“Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death,” Ms Abrams wrote.
The city, which has one of the country’s biggest African-American populations, has already seen demonstrations over last month’s death in police custody of George Floyd.
The incident is likely to add to tensions between police and community groups across the US, with calls in some major cities to defund the police.
The Minneapolis City Council has already pledged to disband its police force after George Floyd died on May 25 when a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.