Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she has accepted the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields following last night’s officer-involved shooting that took the life of Rayshard Brooks.
Bottoms made the announcement at a press conference held at City Hall on Saturday afternoon. The mayor said the officer’s use of deadly force against Brooks, 27, was not justified and called for his immediate termination.
Brooks was being investigated for a DUI after complaints he was asleep in his car blocking the drive-thru lane of the Wendy’s on University Avenue on June 12 around 10;30 p.m. After a tussle with police, Brooks was shot and killed.
While Bottoms praised the dedication of the officers of the Atlanta Police Department, she said “there has been a disconnect between officers and the communities they protect.”
Bottoms said Shields has been a “solid member of APD for two decades” and will remain with the force in a role to be determined.
“Chief Shields and I believe Atlanta can be a model of meaningful police reform,” Bottoms said. She said Shield’s stepping aside would allow the city to “move forward with urgency to rebuild trust throughout our communities.”
Former assistant police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as the interim chief while the city launches a national search for new leadership, Bottoms said.
“The service and sacrifice of APD’s officers is not lost upon me, and I remain grateful for the work that you do to keep our city safe,” the mayor said. “But as Dr. King reminded us many years ago, there is a fierce urgency of now that calls upon each of us, myself included, to be held accountable to the communities in which we are entrusted to serve.”
Bottoms said she had convened an advisory council to review the APD’s use of deadly force policy and recommendations would be forthcoming soon.
The mayor said to the family of Brooks that she was ” sincerely sorry for your loss” and hoped they would take some comfort in the “swift action taken today” and the meaningful reform to come.
Shields released this statement to the media: “For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest women and men in the Atlanta Police Department. Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. 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.”