A “higher than usual” number of Atlanta police officers called out of work Wednesday night after two officers were charged in the death of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was killed by police last week.
“The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift,” the police department tweeted Wednesday night. “We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.”
The police department denied that officers had “walked off the job.” But Vince Champion, southeast regional director for the police union International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told NBC News that some officers were in fact protesting the charges by walking off the job and not responding to some calls.
“This is not an organized thing, it’s not a blue flu, it’s not a strike, it’s nothing like that,” Champion said. “What it actually is is officers protesting that they’ve had enough and they don’t want to deal with it any longer.”
It’s unclear how many officers called out or allegedly walked off the job. Neither the police department nor the police union immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard on Wednesday announced 11 charges, including felony murder and aggravated assault, against Garrett Rolfe, who fatally shot Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot on Friday night. Rolfe was fired on Saturday.
The other officer, Devin Brosnan, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Rolfe and Brosnan turned themselves into Fulton County Jail on Thursday, local media reported.
Last Friday, Rolfe and Brosnan responded to reports that Brooks, 27, was sleeping in his car, which was blocking a Wendy’s drive-thru. Body camera video worn by the officers shows Brooks cooperating as Rolfe checked whether Brooks was armed. He was not.
Then, according to the video, the officers performed a sobriety test and told Brooks he was too drunk to drive. The officers then attempted to arrest him, but Brooks resisted and punched Rolfe, who then fired his Taser at Brooks.
Brooks then grabbed Brosnan’s Taser and ran away. Security footage from the Wendy’s shows Rolfe chasing Brooks, who at one point turned around, pointed the Taser he’s holding at Rolfe and attempted to fire it.
The footage shows Rolfe drawing his firearm and firing three times at Brooks. According to additional video, Rolfe kicked Brooks as he was bleeding on the ground, the district attorney’s office said.
At least eight officers have resigned since June 1, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department told Fox 5 earlier this week.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN on Wednesday night that police morale is down “tenfold.” She said the police department would request backup from other law enforcement agencies in the area if too many officers called out.
“The thing that I’m most concerned about is how do we repair the morale in our police department and how do we ensure that our communities are safe as they interact with our police officers,” Bottoms said.
“There’s no playbook for what we are dealing with right now across this country,” she continued. “What I do know is that we have a lot of men and women who work for our police department who care about this city and they work each and every day with integrity and with honest interactions with our communities.”
Anti-racism protests have erupted across the country following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. Four officers, including one who knelt on Floyd’s neck, were charged in Floyd’s death.