Why did Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resign?

Why did Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resign?
Protesters demand justice after a police officer in Atlanta shot and killed Rayshard Brooks (Photo via WSBTV.com News Staff)

ATLANTA — The Georgia NAACP called for the immediate resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields the morning after a black man was killed in a confrontation with Atlanta Police.

Shields resigned Saturday.

Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old father of four, was killed outside a Wendy’s restaurant Friday night after police were called to the scene. According to WSB-TV, authorities were called because Brooks was sleeping in a car in the restaurant’s drive thru and was holding up traffic.

Content Continues Below

When police arrived, Brooks and police reportedly got into a scuffle in which Brooks got one of the officer’s Tasers, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds said it appears that Brooks ran from the officers, but then turned around and pointed the Taser at them before the officers shot him.

“At this time, we must address the oversaturated police presence in Georgia’s Black communities,” the NAACP said in a statement Saturday. “This is not the first time a black man was killed for sleeping. The Atlanta Police Department has a history of antagonizing our black communities.”

NAACP leaders cited Brooks’ death, along with several other violent confrontations between Atlanta Police officers and the public, as reasons that Shields should resign.

Shields has been under fire recently after six Atlanta Police Department officers were arrested for using excessive force on two college students during protests in May, WSB-TV reported. Video showed officers yanking the students out of their cars and Tasing them.

Shields announced the next day she had fired two officers and put the other four on desk duty. She said the decision by District Attorney Paul Howard to arrest the officers was a political one and she was blindsided by it, according to WSB-TV.

One of those officers, William Sauls, has an open case for the murder of a 26-year-old student, Jamarion Robinson, who was shot 76 times by police in 2016.

Officials also cited the recent arrest of Amber Jackson, who was body-slammed by officers during another recent protest in the city. Jackson was left with a broken shoulder.

“The Atlanta Police Department continues to terrorize protesters and murder unarmed Black bodies,” the NAACP said. “It’s time for new leadership and a change of policing culture."

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Saturday that she believes in Brooks’ case it was an unnecessary use of deadly force.

Bottoms said Shields, who has been the Atlanta Police Chief for 3 1/2 years, will be reassigned to another role. Bottoms said the decision to step down was Shields'.

“Because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief so that the city may move forward with urgency and rebuilding the trust that is desperately needed throughout our communities,” Bottoms said.

Former Assistant Police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as the interim police chief.

Shields released a statement Saturday night:

“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.”