Police shooting in Atlanta tests America’s fragile calm - and risks igniting unrest

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

There has been fresh unrest and angry protests in Atlanta after yet another shooting by police.

Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot dead by police officers on Friday night after they tried to arrest him outside of a Wendy’s restaurant. He had apparently been asleep in his car.

Mobile phone video from several angles appears to show Brooks fighting with police and seizing an officer’s Taser before running away.

The mayor of Atlanta and many black residents believe that there was no need for lethal force to be used against Brooks. The police chief has resigned and the FBI is investigating.

Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots, has been sacked.

The timing could not have been worse, coming after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd nearly three weeks ago.

Now there is the real risk that the death of Brooks could reignite angry demonstrations across the country.

In Atlanta, the restaurant where the incident happened was destroyed after it was set ablaze, and protesters have blocked traffic.

Erika Shields resigned as Atlanta’s police chief after the killing of Rayshard Brooks sparked a new wave of protests. Credit: AP

Stacey Abrams - the most prominent black politician in Georgia and a possible Vice President pick by Joe Biden - tweeted "running away should not be punishable by death".

James Clyburn - another senior black US polítician - has also warned that the death of Brooks was an unnecessary tragedy.

“This did not call for lethal force,” he said.

“And I don’t know what’s in the culture that would make this guy do that. It has got to be the culture. It’s got to be the system.”

Atlanta has already witnessed considerable tension and unrest after Floyd’s death. Hundreds of protesters had marched on the CNN Headquarters.

Now the question is whether Brooks’ death will be seized on as another example of police brutality and a lack of proportionate force.

Emotions are running high and police departments across America will be bracing for another backlash.

Protesters gather near Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Credit: PA