Atlanta’s police chief has resigned after a white officer fatally shot a black man, in an incident that came as Americans continued to protest systemic racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, the African-American mayor of Atlanta, on Saturday said Chief Erika Shields had resigned following the death on Friday night of Rayshard Brooks, 27, outside a Wendy’s restaurant in the capital of Georgia.
Brooks’ death comes less than three weeks after Floyd died when a white officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes as he screamed: “I can’t breathe”. He was one of a long line of African-Americans killed by white officers. The latest killing will probably spark more protests about racism and the way police deal with African-Americans. Over the past three weeks, the US has seen its most widespread demonstrations since the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the officer shot Brooks as he fled the scene with a stun gun he had taken from officers trying to arrest him after he failed a sobriety test. It said police had been called to the Wendy’s restaurant because Brooks was sleeping in a car blocking the drive-through lane.
While the shooting in Atlanta was still being investigated, it sparked new calls for restraint on the use of deadly force by police.
Stacey Abrams, former Democratic minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives who is a contender to become Joe Biden’s running mate in November’s presidential election, said the death underscored the need to restrict the use of deadly force.
“Yes, investigations must be called for — but so too should accountability,” Ms Abrams tweeted. “Sleeping in a drive-through must not end in death.”
Ms Bottoms said on Saturday: “Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief so that the city move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our community.”
Ms Bottoms, who is another contender to serve as Mr Biden’s running mate, called for the firing of the officer who shot Brooks.
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) had called for the chief to be fired over the incident. “The Atlanta police department continues to terrorise protesters and murder unarmed Black bodies. It’s time for new leadership and a change of policing culture.”
Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi