Police brutality protests in the Atlanta area intensified this week after 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer Friday night. Since the officers involved in the case have been relieved of their duties and charged for Brooks’ death, the police department has seen a surge in fellow officers calling out of work — and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says police morale “is down ten-fold.”
In an interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, the mayor said that police morale around the country is down.
“… and I think ours is down ten-fold,” Mayor Bottoms said. “This has been a very tough few weeks in Atlanta and with the tragedy of Mr. Brooks, and then on top of that the excessive force charges that were brought against the officers involved with the college students, there’s a lot happening in our city, and the police officers are receiving the brunt of it quite frankly.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says morale in her city’s police department “is down ten-fold” amid reports officers are calling in sick tonight.”We expect our officers will keep their commitment to our communities,” she added. https://t.co/yHd6ZAY3vs pic.twitter.com/XsrvktkItX
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) June 18, 2020
Bottoms said that her administration has “a great working relationship with police.”
“In fact our officers were given a historic pay raise by our administration, and it was so our officers wouldn’t have to work three jobs and be fatigued, so that they could afford to live in the city of Atlanta, so they wouldn’t be resentful about policing our streets so that we could have the best to choose from on our force,” she said. “…We expect that our officers will keep their commitment to our communities.”
Bottoms’ interview occurred as rumors circulated that several Atlanta cops had resigned from their jobs after charges were filed against former officer Garret Rolfe, who shot Brooks twice in the back on Friday, and officer Devin Brosnan, who is accused of stepping on Brooks’ shoulder after he was shot.
Rolfe faces 11 criminal charges, including felony murder, and Brosnan faces three charges, including aggravated assault.
On Wednesday night, Atlanta Sergeant John Chafee told CBS News that “Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate.” He said that so far this June, eight officers have resigned, five have been dismissed, and three have retired.
Chafee did not clarify how many officers resigned since Brooks’ murder, or since the charges against the cops involved were announced. He did not comment on how many officers have called out from work.
The police department tweeted a similar statement.
“The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the oncoming shift,” the department clarified. “We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents.”
Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) June 18, 2020
Atlanta police patrol six zones in the Atlanta area, as well as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Roughly 500,000 people live within those zones, according to CNN.
Bottoms called Brooks’ case “disturbing” on Wednesday, saying she “doesn’t even have the words to describe how disturbing it was.”
“What struck me is that he was not humanized in that moment. There were so many other things that could have happened,” she said. “…It’s tragic. I go between anger and frustration and just sheer sadness because, for everything that we’re doing in Atlanta to try and get it right, when something like this happens, it shows that there is a deeper systemic problem hat we have. And even if we get it right tomorrow, it still doesn’t bring Mr. Brooks home to his family.”
Atlanta police responded to a call Friday night that Brooks was asleep in his car at a Wendy’s drive-through. After failing a sobriety test, a struggle ensued between Brooks, Rolfe and Brosnan.
During the struggle, Brooks wrestled a Taser away from an officer, and started to run from the scene. According to authorities, he pointed the Taser at police before Rolfe shot and killed him.
Brooks died after surgery at a hospital following the incident. An autopsy shows that Brooks suffered from two gunshot wounds to his back and his death was ruled a homicide. Rolfe was fired from the department and Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty.
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