Atlanta police officer shoots a black man dead at a fast-food drive-thru, authorities say

An Atlanta police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy's drive-thru Friday night, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.


Anti-racism protesters sought to call attention to a man who was fatally shot by police outside a Wendy's in Atlanta. The fast-food restaurant was lit on fire Saturday night before fire crews extinguished the major blaze.

Atlanta police were called late Friday about a man said to be sleeping in a car blocking a Wendy’s restaurant drive-thru. After a struggle, police fatally shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, authorities said.

On Saturday, it was announced the Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Brooks has been terminated, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos told CNN. A second officer involved has been placed on administrative leave, Campos said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Brooks failed a sobriety test and then resisted officers' attempts to arrest him. But an attorney for the man's family disputed that account, saying witnesses didn't see a sobriety test conducted, The New York Times reported.

Earlier, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that she had accepted the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields. The announcement came as roughly 150 protesters marched outside the restaurant.

The mayor said it was Shields’ decision to step aside and that she would remain with the city in an undetermined role.

Earlier on Saturday, police used tear gas to try to disperse the protesters near the Wendy's. A flash bang was heard in the area as well, as the police worked to clear the crowd from the area.

People also marched onto a highway Saturday, shutting down part of the I-75/85 downtown connector, a major thoroughfare through Atlanta.

A crowd also set fire to automobiles near the Wendy's where Brooks struggled with and then ran from officers Friday night. Heavy flames were seen throughout the night at the restaurant as it burned until fire crews intervened.

The Wendy's where a fatal shooting by police occurred was on fire Saturday night.
The Wendy’s where a fatal shooting by police occurred was on fire Saturday night.

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who gained national prominence running for governor in 2018, tweeted that “sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death.”

Brooks' killing comes amid global protests and discussion of racism and police use of force following the death of George Floyd last month in custody in Minneapolis. Atlanta has seen frequent protests, including some that turned violent.

In Atlanta, officers responded to a call at 10:33 p.m. Friday about a man sleeping in a parked vehicle in the drive-thru, causing other customers to drive around it, the GBI said.

Police gave Brooks a field sobriety test, which he failed, the GBI said. He resisted arrest and struggled with officers, the GBI said.

An officer drew his Taser and, witnesses said, the man grabbed it, the statement said. An officer then shot him. Brooks was taken to a hospital, where he died, the statement said.

One officer was treated for an injury and released, the GBI said.

Footage shows struggle, family attorney says use of force unjustified

The GBI released security camera video of the shooting Saturday. The footage shows a man running from two white police officers as he raises a hand, which is holding some type of object, toward an officer a few steps behind him. The officer draws his gun and fires as the man keeps running, then falls to the ground in the parking lot.

GBI Director Vic Reynolds said Brooks had grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and appeared to point it at the officer as he fled, prompting the officer to reach for his gun and fire an estimated three shots.

The security camera video recorded Brooks “running or fleeing from Atlanta police officers,” Reynolds said. “It appears that he has in his hand a Taser.”

The footage does not show Brooks' initial struggle with police.

L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks' family, said the officer who shot him should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder.”

“You can’t have it both ways in law enforcement," Stewart said. “You can’t say a Taser is a nonlethal weapon ... but when an African American grabs it and runs with it, now it’s some kind of deadly, lethal weapon that calls for you to unload on somebody.”

He said Brooks was a father of four and had celebrated a daughter's eighth birthday Friday before he was killed.

'I thought Atlanta was higher than that'

At the Wendy's in southeast Atlanta, Decatur Redd, who said he is a relative of Brooks, spoke with reporters and a crowd of people.

"I don't know how to do this because I never knew that I was going to have to do this," Redd said. "I've watched this on the internet, from the whole George Floyd situation to us coming together like we're doing and this whole thing landed on my doorstep with my little cousin.

"I thought Atlanta was higher than that. I thought Atlanta was bigger than that," Redd said.

"We've been watching this happen for so many years, with young black boys around the country just dying in vain," Redd said. "I just don't want that to continue and keep happening like that."

District Attorney investigating

The GBI is investigating at the request of the APD. Once completed, the case will be turned over to prosecutors for review.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. issued a statement Friday afternoon.

"My office has already launched an intense, independent investigation of the incident," Howard said. "Members of the Fulton County District Attorney's Office were on scene shortly after the shooting, and we have been in investigative sessions ever since to identify all of the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident."

WSB-TV reported this is the 48th police shooting the GBI has investigated in 2020.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.