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Police Chief Resigns, Protests Break Out After Police Kill Black Man In Atlanta


We begin in Atlanta, where protests erupted last night after police killed a black man outside a fast-food restaurant. The Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was shot was set on fire, and protesters blocked a major interstate nearby. And the city's police chief has now stepped down in the wake of that. One of the white officers involved has been fired, and the other one has been placed on administrative leave. Lily Oppenheimer from member station WABE has been following this story for us, and she joins us now. Good morning.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So this all started Friday night with the shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Tell us what happened. What do we know?

OPPENHEIMER: So the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is still saying, similar to what they said yesterday, Rayshard Brooks was parked in a Wendy's drive-through, asleep. Atlanta police were called. Police showed up and did a sobriety test on him, tried to take him into custody when he failed that. The controversy there is that he wasn't actually driving the car when they saw him in the drive-through. So we can see from different surveillance camera footage, police body cams and bystander videos from the incident. There's a lot of angles from this encounter.

You know, you can see Brooks struggling with officers in witness footage and then taking one of the tasers away from the officer and running. At one point, as he's running away, he turns around, and you see in Wendy's surveillance footage, that he points the taser at the officer. Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it appears that's when the officer fired the shots back. And it looks like, from videos that we're seeing, the first shot was fired when Brooks was still pointing the taser towards the officer. And the other two shots were fired as he was turned back around.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What has been the response to this shooting? I mean, it comes, obviously, at a very sensitive time.

OPPENHEIMER: Well, yesterday, an attorney for the Brooks family held a press conference. The lawyer L. Chris Stewart said people are sick and tired of seeing cases like this. Here he is at a press conference yesterday.


L. CHRIS STEWART: I don't know what justice is anymore. Is it getting them arrested? Is it getting somebody fired? Is it a chief stepping down? I know that this isn't justice - what's happening in society right now.

OPPENHEIMER: So this morning, we found out that the police department has fired the officer who fired the shots and put another one on administrative leave. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also held a brief press conference yesterday, announced that the city's police chief is resigning. And after that, Police Chief Erika Shields put out a statement saying she has a deep love for the city and the department, but it's time for everyone in the city to move forward.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I understand you went to the Wendy's last night as the protest was going on. What did you see? What was going on?

OPPENHEIMER: When I arrived, it was pretty chaotic. I talked to one protester, Jonathan Likes (ph), and he said he understands why people are upset.

JONATHAN LIKES: The police need to be peaceful. That's who - don't talk about violence unless you talk about police violence. That - I'm tired of people asking me that question. Have you addressed police violence? They killed Rayshard Brooks here last night. When all this has happened, they killed another person. So if people feel anger, let's talk about how they're killing us.

OPPENHEIMER: And when police finally arrived, protesters started throwing bottles at the officers, and they responded with tear gas.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So an ongoing tense situation there. That's Lily Oppenheimer from member station WABE in Atlanta. Thank you very much.

OPPENHEIMER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lily Oppenheimer