Atlanta police release video of fatal shooting of black man

Tayla Myree sets out flowers on a shrine at a burned Wendy’s Credit: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Atlanta police video released on Sunday showed a seemingly routine sobriety check outside a Wendy’s restaurant that quickly spun out of control and ended in gunfire.

The killing of 27-year-old black man Rayshard Brooks in an encounter with two white officers late on Friday rekindled fiery protests in Atlanta and prompted the police chief’s resignation.

Police said the department terminated Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots, and officer Devin Brosnan was placed on administrative duty.

Mr Rolfe had worked for the department since October 2013 and Mr Brosnan since September 2018.

Meanwhile, authorities announced a $10,000 reward for information finding those responsible for setting fire to the Wendy’s restaurant at the shooting scene.

Flames gutted the restaurant late on Saturday after demonstrations grew turbulent. The protests prompted 36 arrests.

More than 100 people, some sporting umbrellas and rain gear after on-and-off rain, protested peacefully at the site on Sunday evening.

Police blocked some side streets, slowing traffic in the area as people held up signs.

The two officers’ body cameras and the dash-mounted cameras in their patrol cars showed they spent more than 40 minutes peacefully questioning Brooks.

The fighting erupted when they tried to handcuff him.

Andy Harvey, chief of police of Ennis, Texas, who has written books and developed training on community policing, said such moments can turn in a split second.

“The moment you put your hands on someone is when someone will decide whether to comply or resist,” Mr Harvey said.

“That’s what happened in Atlanta.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) will present the findings of its investigation to prosecutors.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a statement he hopes to reach a decision by midweek on whether to bring charges against the officers.

Protesters stand in front of police during demonstrations in Atlanta. Credit: Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

The officers were called late on Friday over complaints of a car blocking the restaurant’s drive-thru lane.

Mr Brosnan arrived first and found Brooks alone in the car, apparently asleep.

Brooks agreed to move the car, showed his license, and Mr Rolfe arrived minutes later to conduct a sobriety check.

“I know you’re just doing your job,” Brooks says on video after consenting to a breath test.

He mentions celebrating his daughter’s birthday and says: “I just had a few drinks, that’s all.”

Mr Rolfe does not tell Brooks the results though his body camera recorded a digital readout of 0.108 — higher than the 0.08-gram blood alcohol content considered too intoxicated to drive in Georgia.

“All right, I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving,” Mr Rolfe tells Brooks. “Put your hands behind your back.”

The video shows each officer take hold of one of Brooks’ wrists as Mr Rolfe tries to handcuff him.

Brooks tries to run and the officers take him to the ground.

“Stop fighting!” one officer yells.

People hold a rally at Wendy’s on University Avenue following the death of Rayshard Brooks. Credit: Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

As Brooks fights to stand, Mr Brosnan presses a Taser to his leg and threatens to stun him.

Brooks grabs the Taser and pulls it away. He struggles to his feet, the Taser in his hand, and starts running.

Mr Rolfe fires his Taser and a yelp can be heard above the weapon’s electric crackle.

He runs after Brooks, and seconds later three gunshots sound.

Both officers’ body cameras were knocked to the ground in the struggle, and none of the four police cameras captured the shooting. Footage released from a Wendy’s security camera showed Brooks turn and point an object in his hand at one of the officers, who was steps behind him. The officer draws his gun and fires.

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“As I pursued him, he turned and started firing the Taser at me,” Rolfe told a supervisor after the shooting in a videotaped conversation. “…He definitely did shoot it at me at least once.”

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said she could not confirm whether Brooks fired the Taser.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Saturday she does not believe the shooting was justified.

Police Chief Erika Shields, who joined the department as a beat officer in 1995, resigned.

Brooks’ death inflamed raw emotions in Atlanta and across the US following the May 25 police custody killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.