Eight officers face criminal charges. Five have lost their jobs. Police Chief Erika Shields, who was reportedly popular with the rank and file, has stepped aside. All in a span of two weeks.
Upheaval within the Atlanta Police Department has plummeted morale to unprecedented depths, said Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation.
The foundation announced Thursday that all of the city’s officers will receive a $500 bonus, provided through private donations, for the long hours logged during the weeks of protest that continue throughout the city, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
Some Atlanta officers staged an unofficial labor action Wednesday by calling out sick after Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard filed numerous charges against two officers in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Brooks was about to be arrested for DUI on June 12 when he reportedly started to fight Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. Video from the scene shows a man identified by authorities as Brooks, running away from the officers with one of their TASERs and firing it at the pursuing Rolfe before Rolfe fired twice, mortally wounding the man. Rolfe has been charged with felony murder over the shooting. The other officer at the scene faces an aggravated assault charge.
There are reports and substantial radio traffic evidence that the Wednesday sick out led to serious response issues in some of the city's six patrol zones.
Thursday and Friday some officers continued the unofficial labor action.
“I have to assume many of those officers who walked out won’t be coming back” said Atlanta Police Union representative Ken Allen.
Allen said officers are angry because they feel DA Howard denied fired Officer Garrett Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan due process by filing charges before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation completed its independent review.
“There are lots of people looking for new jobs. Howard is endangering their well-being,” Allen told the Journal-Constituition.
“What I fear most is losing 30 to 40 officers because of low morale,” Foundation president Wilkinson said. “They’ve had to put up with a ridiculous amount of harassment. They’ve been cursed at, spit on. But a vast majority of the community supports them, and we need to show them we appreciate all they do for the city.”