Natalie White is the name of the accused arson suspect who authorities believe may be responsible, at least in part, for the fire that destroyed the Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, near where a police officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks.
“An arrest warrant has been issued by Atlanta Fire Investigators for Ms. Natalie White. She has been identified as a suspect in the arson fire that burned down the Wendy’s Restaurant (125 University Ave) on Saturday, June 13th. Call 404-577-TIPS or 1-800-282-5804 with any info,” Atlanta Fire and Rescue wrote on Twitter on June 20, 2020.
On June 13, Atlanta Fire wrote, “#Atlanta Fire units are standing by until they can safely get to the fire burning at Wendy’s (125 University Ave). Restaurant is fully involved and adjacent to a gas station. No reports of anyone inside the location. #AFRD.”
Investigators later released additional pictures of White.
The charges came after an unrelated incident in Philadelphia where a woman, Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, was accused of torching police cars. In New York, attorney Colinford Mattis and law student Urooj Rahman are accused of participating “in a Molotov cocktail attack on an empty New York Police Department vehicle during protests,” CNN reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
Rayshard Brooks Told Officers He Had a Girlfriend Named Natalie White Before He Was Shot
Randy Travis, of Fox 5, wrote on Facebook, “Atlanta Fire Rescue investigators believe they’ve identified the woman in this photo who was seen helping set fire to the Wendy’s in the wake of the Rayshard Brooks shooting. They say she’s 29-year-old Natalie White of Gwinnett County. Interestingly, that’s also the name of the girl friend Brooks repeatedly told APD officers had just dropped him off that night at the Wendy’s. We’ve been unable to confirm it’s the same person. We talked to White’s mother Friday and asked whether her daughter knew Brooks. She refused to comment and ended the conversation. AFRD is asking if anyone knows White’s whereabouts to call 404-577-TIPS or the arson tip line 1-800-292-5804.”
CNN reported that, according to a source, investigators “are working with the idea that a suspect in the arson fire that burned down an Atlanta Wendy’s restaurant may be linked to Rayshard Brooks.
11Alive reported that a $10,000 reward was issued “for a masked individual last Sunday, who could be seen in a Twitter video pouring some sort of accelerant into the front of the Wendy’s building as it was burning.”
Authorities say that, after struggling with officers and taking an officer’s taser, Brooks pointed it at an officer before then Officer Garrett Rolfe, fired and killed him. The district attorney has charged Rolfe with multiple criminal charges, including felony murder, an offense that could carry the death penalty upon conviction. The other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, is also facing other criminal charges. The shooting death occurred when officers encountered Brooks on a possible OWI call at the Wendy’s parking lot.
CNN correspondent Natasha Chen wrote on Twitter, “Sgt. Cortez Stafford with ATL Fire told me there could be other possible suspects too: ‘We take arson very seriously. Someone could have been injured or killed.’ Stafford added that the Wendy’s burning down should not take away from what the peaceful protesters are out there for.”
Videos Showed the Wendy’s Ablaze
Videos showed the fire at the Wendy’s restaurant as Atlanta protesters upset about the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks gathered at the scene.
That action came after a tense day in which the police chief resigned, the mayor called for the officer who shot Brooks to be fired, and the family’s attorneys labeled the death murder.
Here are some of the videos:
The attorneys representing the family of Rayshard Brooks said in a 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 attorneys spoke in front of a large photo of Brooks, who was shot during a confrontation with Atlanta police officers at a Wendy’s restaurant. The shooting has provoked protests throughout the city.
The Family’s Lawyer Says That Brooks Wasn’t Close Enough to Harm the Officers But Rolfe’s Lawyer Says Brooks ‘Violently Attacked’ the 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.
The officer’s lawyer denies that he kicked Brooks – a claim the DA made in a news conference. “If there was a video of my client kicking Mr. Brooks, you would have seen it,” attorney Lance LoRusso told Fox News. “(Howard) shows a still, and one leg is planted and the other one’s bent. He could be leaning down to try to give him first aid. It could have been when he was trying to evaluate whether he needed handcuffs.”
The lawyer for the other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, told CNN that Brosnan “placed his foot on Brooks to make sure he ‘didn’t have access to a weapon,'” according to CBS News and also said Brosnan fell, suffered a concussion, and didn’t realize at first that Brooks was shot.
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.
Authorities earlier in the day released video they said shows Brooks pointing a taser at an officer before a second officer opened fire.
The shooting took place around 10:30 p.m. June 12. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation wrote that it has “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…An earlier account of this incident was based on the officer’s body cam which was knocked off during the physical struggle, preventing the capture of the entire shooting incident.”
The family’s lawyer noted that the police chief had resigned and said he theorized that “maybe she even realized, what more could I do training wise? They know they shouldn’t have done that. Do we need to start over and rehire all of the officers to retrain them? What other options do we have. The problem is that they’ve been given leeway to use lethal force all too often and too long and this is what we’re left with.”
He said multiple witnesses were at the scene who said “the officers went and put on plastic gloves and picked up their shell casings after they killed him before rendering aid. We counted 2 minutes and 16 seconds before they even checked his pulse. And people wonder why everyone is mad. Just watch the video as he lays there dying as the officers stand around, one…flips him over.”
“We’re so concerned trying to find a vaccine for the coronavirus…but nobody is trying to find a vaccine for civil rights” violations. “Noone’s trying to find a vaccine to find out why officers pull the trigger so quickly on African Americans. There’s no flood of money…trying to end that epidemic,” said Stewart.
He added, “We will fight for justice. Try to get the cop arrested…sue the city and see if they will settle. I don’t know. But we’re just tired. And if you don’t understand because you may be a different color, you may be a different gender, you may not be from Georgia, then you may be the problem.”
GBI also wrote:
Preliminary information indicates that at approximately 10:33 pm, APD was dispatched to the Wendy’s located at 125 University Ave, Atlanta, GA. Officers were responding to a complaint of a male in a vehicle parked in the drive thru asleep, causing other customers to drive around the vehicle. A field sobriety test was performed on the male subject. After failing the test, the officers attempted to place the male subject into custody. During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued. The officer deployed a Taser. Witnesses report that during the struggle the male subject grabbed and was in possession of the Taser. It has also been reported that the male subject was shot by an officer in the struggle over the Taser.