The Atlanta Police Department took to Twitter in an attempt to douse rampant social media rumors that multiple officers are walking off the job in each zone because of the criminal charges against Officer Garrett Rolfe for the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant. However, a police union leader told several sites that some officers had stopped answering calls and had walked off the job.
CNN reported that police were not answering calls in three of the city’s six zones hours after the charges came down against Rolfe.
“Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents,” Atlanta police wrote just before 8 p.m. on June 17, just hours after the Fulton County District Attorney socked Rolfe with 11 criminal charges and announced that he could face up to life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) June 18, 2020
You can listen to an Atlanta police dispatch feeds live here. Some of the feeds were often silent on the evening of June 17, with some periodic chatter.
lol we can literally listen the police scanners and Zone 6 is radio silence and Zone 5 is close to that.
— Blue Flu Cernovich (@Cernovich) June 18, 2020
However, Decaturish.com quoted the head of Atlanta’s police union as confirming June 17 that some officers from the Atlanta Police Department in Zones 3 and 6 walked off the job that afternoon.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Union Official Says Some Officers Stopped Answering Calls & Others Walked Off the Job
Vince Champion, southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood of Police officers, told the site that “police officers had stopped answering calls midshift” because of the charges against Rolfe. “The union, we would never advocate this. We wouldn’t advocate a blue flu,” Champion said to Decaturish.com. “We don’t know the numbers. Apparently we’re learning that command staff are asking outlying counties for support and aren’t getting it.” Zones 3 and 6 are in the area of South Atlanta where Brooks died.
That site quoted an Atlanta police spokesperson as saying that “the department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call-outs with the incoming shift” while denying a walkout.
The Police Tribune also reported that Champion said Atlanta police officers “are walking off the job Wednesday night,” June 17. “We don’t know the exact number – I’ve heard different stories. But we’ve heard that in at least three zones, the officers have actually walked out – we don’t know the number. We‘ve heard that in one precinct, the officers are in the precinct building but will not come out unless an officer calls for assistance,” Champion told The Police Tribune.
He added, “We are also hearing that some precincts are reporting that officers are just sitting in their POVs [personally-owned vehicles] in the parking lot.”
Steven Deace of Blaze TV, a conservative site, claimed on Twitter, “Just got this email from an Atlanta police officer: ‘Atlanta police officers are refusing to answer the radio and walking off of the job. The county can go screw themselves. If you want a society without police we’ll give you one. Let it burn!'”
The charges against Rolfe sparked both praise and condemnation on the ever-divided Internet, and they led to a flurry of tweets claiming that officers were walking off the job or going “radio silent.” Some people on Twitter called for the “blue flu” – the name given to officers who call in sick en masse when they don’t feel supported. “I support the blu flu #GarrettRolfe #DevinBrosnan. Let the Democrat mayor respond to calls. She did nothing to support these officers,” wrote one such person.
A disturbing photo and video show Rolfe kicking Rayshard Brooks after shooting him, the Fulton County District Attorney said June 17 as he announced a slew of criminal charges against the officer. The other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, admitted standing on Brooks’ body after Brooks was shot, according to the DA. Be forewarned that the images are disturbing.
Here’s the disturbing photo:
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) June 17, 2020
The moment was also captured on video:
— Omar Moore (@thepopcornreel) June 17, 2020
Here’s the moment Brosnan stood on Brooks.
The moment when Atlanta police Ofc. Devin Brosnan stood on the shoulder of #RayshardBrooks after Brooks was shot. @PaulHowardDA says Brosnan admitted to standing on his arm to make sure Brooks didn’t have a weapon. Brooks was unarmed. The ofcs searched him before he was shot. pic.twitter.com/DsCihKrYkj
— Shiba Russell (@ShibaRussell) June 17, 2020
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, in announcing the charges, described Brooks as not being a threat because he was cooperative initially with officers. “Mr. Brooks never displayed any aggressive behavior” during the 41 minutes and 17 seconds with the officers before they tried to put handcuffs on him, the DA said. The DA said that Brooks was 18 feet, 3 inches away and running away when Rolfe shot him. He accused Rolfe of not immediately giving Brooks medical aid.
“Brooks never presented himself as a threat,” Howard said. Brooks was shot twice in the back, according to AJC.com.
The DA announced that Rolfe will face 11 charges, including felony murder with an underlying offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage to property, violation of his oath and aggravated assault for kicking Brooks when he was on the ground, according to Howard.
Rolfe’s Attorneys Say Brooks ‘Violently Attacked’ the Two Officers
Rolfe’s attorneys released a statement saying that “Mr. Brooks violently attacked two officers and disarmed one of them. When Mr. Brooks turned and pointed an object at Officer Rolfe, any officer would have reasonably believed that he intended to disarm, disable, or seriously injure him,” according to AJC.
Brosnan is facing three charges as well, including aggravated assault for standing on Rayshard Brooks’ shoulder. He’s cooperating with the state.
Rolfe, the Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Brooks, was previously fired as the city erupted in protests and riots in the wake of Brooks’ death outside a Wendy’s restaurant. Brosnan, who was at the scene but didn’t fire, was initially placed on administrative leave.
Body cam video from the scene was released previously.
The shooting took place around 10:30 p.m. June 12. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation wrote that it had “obtained additional surveillance video from the Wendy’s restaurant. Agents have also reviewed video posted on social media. These new videos indicate that during a physical struggle with officers, Brooks obtained one of the officer’s Tasers and began to flee from the scene. Officers pursued Brooks on foot and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks.”
Authorities said previously that, after struggling with officers and taking an officer’s taser, Brooks pointed it at Brosnan before Rolfe fired and killed him.
You can see that video here:
The news of Rolfe’s firing came after the police chief resigned and the mayor called for the officer’s termination.
The attorneys representing the family of Rayshard Brooks said in a previous press conference that a taser is not a deadly weapon and called the Atlanta man’s death in a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot a situation of being “murdered on camera.”
The attorney, L. Chris Stewart, speaking hypothetically to the officer, said,
He (Brooks) wasn’t close enough to harm you with it. You could have run him down but instead he got bullets in the back. A man that earlier that day was celebrating his daughter’s 8th birthday at the arcade. Who has three little girls who are 8, 2, and 1, and a stepson, 13. Who we sat with today and watched them play and laugh and be oblivious to the fact their dad was murdered on camera. A scene that we keep repeating, as we watch Gianna Floyd play in Houston, oblivious that her dad was knelt on and murdered. How many more examples will we need? The cameras isn’t doing it, you all filming it isn’t doing it, covering it isn’t doing it, people protesting isn’t doing it, what is it going to take? How many more examples are we going to get? I actually thought we were going to get over all of this. I thought this was going to finally going to start ending with all these changes.