Atlanta mayor signing orders to reform police use of force
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) announced Monday she will be signing a series of administrative orders aimed at reforming police use of force policies in the city following the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
Bottoms had initially announced a task force to make recommendations regarding use of police force within 14 days, and to get community input for final recommendations within 45 days, in the wake of protests over police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
But given the recent shooting of Brooks, which has made national headlines, Bottoms stressed the need for more immediate reform.
“On Friday evening we saw the murder of Rayshard Brooks, and as I’ve said before I’m often reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — there is a fierce urgency of now in our communities,” Bottoms said during a press conference, quoting the civil rights leader.
“And that fierce urgency of now says that while our advisory committee continues to work to make recommendations to help us implement and review all of our policies in the city of Atlanta, it is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste,” Bottoms added.
The reforms call for officers to use de-escalation techniques to gain voluntary compliance “and avoid or minimize the use of physical force,” Bottoms said. The mayor’s reform also orders officers to be continuously trained in de-escalation techniques.
Under the mayor’s order, all uses of deadly force will have to be reported to the citizen’s review board. The reform measures also require officers who see others using force beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances to intercede and prevent it.
“We understand in Atlanta and across the nation that this is the beginning of a great deal of work that lies ahead of us to make sure that we are doing all that we can do to protect our communities,” Bottoms said.
Her announcement s comes after Atlanta Police Chief Ericka Shields voluntarily stepped down following the fatal shooting of Brooks. Another officer was fired and one was placed on leave following the shooting.
Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, was shot by police officers after being found asleep in a drive-thru at a Wendy’s in Atlanta. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office reportedly ruled Brook’s death a homicide on Sunday.
Officers could be seen giving Brooks a sobriety test, according to footage captured by police who arrived at the restaurant in response to a complaint.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said officers attempted to arrest Brooks after Brooks failed the test. There was a scuffle in which Brooks grabbed one of the officer’s tasers.
The GBI said Brooks turned and pointed the taser at the officer before the officer shot him.
The shooting sparked further protests in Atlanta and added fuel to demonstrations across the country.