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Atlanta officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks has been terminated

Stewart Trial Attorneys

The Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks has been terminated, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos told CNN Saturday. A second officer involved has been placed on administrative duty, Campos said.

The announcement about the two officers comes as protesters flooded streets of southeast Atlanta Saturday night, angry over the fatal shooting of Brooks, an unarmed black man who was killed by Atlanta police Friday night.

The protesters surrounded the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot and then made their way to nearby Interstate 75/85, bringing the major thoroughfare to a standstill.

The Wendy’s where Brooks lost his life was in flames Saturday night, and a crowd also set fire to automobiles near the fast-food restaurant. Earlier in the day, police used tear gas and a flash bang to try to clear the crowd there.

The chaos came after Atlanta’s police chief stepped down and the mayor called for the officer who shot Brooks to be fired.

Brooks was shot in the Wendy’s parking lot Friday night after he scuffled with officers and ran away with one of their stun guns, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The incident began with a call to police at 10:33 p.m. Friday about a man sleeping in a parked vehicle in the restaurant’s drive-thru lane, causing other customers to drive around it, the GBI said in a statement.

Police gave Brooks a field sobriety test, which he failed, the GBI said. He resisted arrest and struggled with officers, the GBI said.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds said Saturday that his department obtained surveillance video of the incident from Wendy’s and reviewed video that witnesses posted on social media.

CNN obtained two videos of the incident, including surveillance video from Wendy’s released by the GBI. The other video was provided by an eyewitness who CNN is not naming because they requested anonymity due to privacy concerns.

The video from the eyewitness begins in the middle of the struggle between Brooks and two police officers. In the video, an officer is heard telling Brooks to “stop fighting” and “hands off the taser.”

The eyewitness told CNN that by the time they arrived on the scene, Brooks’ car was parked in a parking spot.

“The fight started when they tried to make an arrest … after that he took a taser and took off,” the witness said.

As the scuffle broke up, the video shows Brooks beginning to run from the officers and he is seen holding what appears to be a stun gun in his right hand. It appears one of the officers fires their stun gun at Brooks three times as he runs away.

Witnesses told GBI investigators that Brooks had one of the officer’s stun guns.

Shortly after Brooks and one of the officers run by the car of the eyewitness taking the video, a second officer runs by, following Brooks.

Three shots are then heard out of frame.

The Wendy’s surveillance video doesn’t show the scuffle, but shows Brooks running away from where police cars are parked. In that video, Brooks appears to point the stun gun at the Atlanta officer.

“At that point the Atlanta officer reaches down and retrieves his weapon from his holster, discharges it, strikes Mr. Brooks there on the parking lot and he goes down,” Reynolds, the GBI director, said in a press conference on Saturday.

The eyewitness is heard saying in additional video obtained by CNN that Brooks was still breathing as he lay on the ground.

Brooks was taken to a hospital, where he died, the statement said. One officer was treated for an injury and released, the GBI said.

Mayor criticizes officer

At a news conference Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms criticized the officer who shot Brooks, saying, “There is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do.”

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

Bottoms said it was APD Chief Erika Shields’ decision to step aside and she will remain with the city in an undetermined role.

In a statement, Shields said she’s stepping down “out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department.”

“APD has my full support, and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department. I have faith in the Mayor, and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Shields said.

Rodney Bryant, the current head of the city’s corrections department, will serve as the city’s interim police chief.

Protesters block Atlanta’s interstate

Brooks’ killing comes during global protests and discussion of racism and police use of force following the death of George Floyd last month in custody in Minneapolis. Atlanta has seen frequent protests, including some that turned violent.

Six Atlanta police officers are facing charges of using excessive force related to the arrest of two college students at a protest late last month.

The officers were filmed in downtown Atlanta breaking windows of a vehicle, yanking a woman out of the car and using a stun gun on a man. The two victims were later identified as college students at Spelman and Morehouse, both historically black universities in Atlanta. They were on their way home from picking up food when they got caught in traffic downtown caused by a protest of police violence against black citizens.

Two of the officers were fired by the mayor.

Protesters returned to the streets Saturday night, gathering in the area around the Wendy’s where Brooks was killed.

As protesters began to vandalize the Wendy’s where Brooks was killed, Atlanta police used tear gas on the crowd. A flash bang was heard as police worked to clear people from the area. CNN’s Natasha Chen and two photographers were harassed outside the Wendy’s building where Brooks was killed. A CNN camera was broken.

Around 9:30 p.m., protesters headed toward I-75/85, a busy interstate nearby. Police and protesters were at a standoff as officers tried clear the road. Protesters and police blocked the interstate, impacting traffic for miles.

Windows at the Wendy’s were smashed and smoke could be seen coming from the building.

‘I thought Atlanta was higher than that’

At the Wendy’s in southeast Atlanta, Decatur Redd, who said he is a relative of Brooks, spoke with reporters and a crowd of people.

“I don’t know how to do this because I never knew that I was going to have to do this,” Redd said. “I’ve watched this on the internet, from the whole George Floyd situation to us coming together like we’re doing and this whole thing landed on my doorstep with my little cousin.

“I thought Atlanta was higher than that. I thought Atlanta was bigger than that,” Redd said.

“We’ve been watching this happen for so many years, with young black boys around the country just dying in vain,” Redd said. “I just don’t want that to continue and keep happening like that.”

Attorneys L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller are representing Brooks’ family. They said he was a father of three daughters and a stepson.

Stewart said Brooks’ family is heartbroken over his death and he had a “ton of brothers and sisters that love him more than life.”

Brooks spent time with one of his daughters Friday, taking her to get her nails done for her birthday, Stewart said, adding he was planning to take her skating Saturday and she was waiting for him to pick her up.

The girl doesn’t yet understand what happened to her father, Stewart told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “She thought he was going to show up at any moment.”

Stewart said witnesses to the shooting he talked to described Brooks as having a calm conversation with the officers before they tried to arrest him. “He wasn’t doing anything violent or crazy,” Stewart said.

Police have argued in the past that a stun gun is not a deadly weapon, so there was no reason to use deadly force against Brooks, who was running away, Stewart said.

“I have cases where officers used tasers on victims and they argue with us in court that tasers aren’t deadly,” Stewart said. “You cannot have it both ways.”

Stewart pointed out that police had Brooks’ ID and his address, asserting they could have easily tracked him down.

Stewart also said the surveillance video shows officers waited 2 minutes and 16 seconds to begin providing aid to Brooks.

Stewart called for more police training and an emphasis on community policing, with officers living in the area where they work.

“Police officers are the only job in this country where they can take your life, liberty and freedom,” Stewart said. “It’s the most powerful job in the country.”

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called for restricting the use of deadly force in a post on Twitter.

“The killing of #RayshardBrooks in Atlanta last night demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force. Yes, investigations must be called for – but so too should accountability,” Abrams wrote. “Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death.”

District attorney investigating

The GBI is investigating at the request of the APD. Once completed, the case will be turned over to prosecutors for review.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard issued a statement Saturday afternoon.

“My office has already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident,” Howard said. “Members of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office 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.”

CNN affiliate WSB reports this is the 48th police shooting the GBI has investigated in 2020.

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