Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a series of administrative orders Monday targeting police use of force policies following the shooting death of a black man last week, triggering a new wave of protests and riots in the city.
Speaking to reporters, Bottoms said the new rules will require officers to implement de-escalation measures before using physical force and that all incidents of deadly force must be reported to the city’s citizen review board.
Other measures include convening a body to state grievances and propose solutions related to police misconduct and requiring officers to intervene if they see another officer using inappropriate force. The officers would also be required to report such incidents to a supervisor.
“We understand that this is the beginning of a great deal of work that lies ahead of us to make sure that we do all we can do to protect our communities,” Bottoms said. “It is very clear our police officers should be guardians and not warriors within our communities.”
The measures come days after the fatal Atlanta police shooting of Rayshard Brooks. The shooting of Brooks, 27, a black man, by a white police officer has prompted violent protests and led to the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields.
“Based on what we saw happen on Friday, it became abundantly clear here quickly that there’s a need for us to take an immediate look at our training policies,” Bottoms said. “We saw the worst happen on Friday night with Mr. Brooks. It angered me and it saddened me beyond words.”
Video footage captured from police body cameras shows Atlanta police officers talking with Brooks moments before he was shot in a Wendy’s parking lot.
Officer Devin Bronsan arrived in the area after a 911 complaint of someone sleeping in a car. Brooks said he drank a small amount of alcohol and was administered a field sobriety test. His blood-alcohol level registered at .108, above the .08 legal limit.
“I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving,” said Officer Garrett Rolfe, who responded to the scene after Bronsan, before he tried to arrest Brooks. A struggle ensued and the officers’ bodycams were knocked to the ground. They could be heard yelling, “You’re going to get Tased! Stop fighting!”
At one point Brooks appears to grab Bronsan’s Taser.
“Hands off the Taser!” an officer said.
Brooks fled from the officers and turned around with the stun gun before he was shot.
“It does appear in the video that he is fleeing from the Atlanta police officers, that as he’s fleeing he turns back over his shoulder with what appears to the naked eye to be his Taser that the eyewitnesses told us they saw the individual have that belonged to one of the officers,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said Saturday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
An autopsy found that Brooks suffered to two gunshot wounds to his back. The Fulton County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide. Rolfe has not been charged in Brooks’ death but was fired from the force Sunday.
Cedric Alexander, the former public safety director of Dekalb County, Ga., who now works as a police consultant, told the Associated Press that the shooting will lead to questions over how officers could have defused the situation.
“Here’s a man who took it upon himself to pull off the road to take a nap,” Alexander said. “Could they have given him a ride home, could they have called him an Uber, and let him sleep it off later, as opposed to arresting him? Now that does not in any kind of way excuse Mr. Brooks for resisting arrest. But the question is: Are there other protocols that police could have taken?
“And people will ask the question, had he been white and pulled onto the side of the road to take a nap and sleep it off, would they have given him a ride home?” he added.
The Wendy’s where Brooks was shot was torched over the weekend following a day of protests outside the restaurant.
Four other Atlanta officers have been fired in recent weeks after body camera footage appeared to show them dragging a pair of college students from a car and tasing them amid a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Six officers from that incident have been criminally charged. Bottoms said she recognized that morale in the city’s police department is low.
“My understanding is that it’s really bad and understandably so,” she said. “It’s bad across the country.”
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.