Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigns in wake of fatal shooting

The NAACP had called for her to step down.

June 13, 2020, 6:55 PM

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields has resigned, according to city Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Shields had served in the position since December 2016. Shields will continue with the department in a role to be determined.

"It has become abundantly clear that over the last couple weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor respect and dignity," Bottoms said in a statement. "There has been a disconnect with what our expectations are, and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect."

"Chief Erica Shields has been a solid member of APD for over two decades, and has a deep and abiding love for the people of Atlanta," she continued. "And because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as Police Chief so that the city may move forward with urgency and rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities."

Former Assistant Police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as interim police chief as the city immediately launches a national search for new leadership to repair trust within the community.

The move comes just hours after a man, identified as Rayshard Brooks, was shot and killed by police at a Wendy's drive-thru after police said he pointed a Taser at an officer while running away from law enforcement.

"I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do," Bottoms said in a press conference regarding the officer's actions. "I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer."

PHOTO: In this May 30, 2020, photo, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces a 9 p.m. curfew as protests continue over the death of George Floyd.
In this May 30, 2020, photo, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announces a 9 p.m. curfew as protests continue over the death of George Floyd.
Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File

Shields had also called for the officer's immediate termination and said the other officer involved has been placed on administrative duty.

"For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest men and women in the Atlanta Police Department," Shields said in a statement following her resignation. "Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. APD has my full support, and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department. I have faith in the Mayor, and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

Bottoms expressed condolences to the family of Brooks.

"There are no words strong enough to express how sincerely sorry I am for your loss," the mayor said. "I do hope that you will find some comfort in the swift actions that have been taken today and the meaningful reforms that our city will implement on behalf of the countless men and women who have lost their lives across this country."

PHOTO: Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields speaks at a press conference on Thursday, March 21, 2019.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields speaks at a press conference on Thursday, March 21, 2019.
Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Calls for a change at the top of the department grew Saturday in the wake of Brooks' shooting.

"The Atlanta Police Department continues to terrorize protestors and murder unarmed Black bodies," the NAACP said in a statement. "It’s time for new leadership and a change of policing culture. Stand with us and call for her immediate resignation."

The shooting comes less than two weeks after six Atlanta police officers were charged for the forceful arrests of two college students sitting in their car on June 2. The two were shocked with stun guns and physically pulled out of the car though they did not appear to be involved in protests in the area.

Among the charges for the officers were aggravated assault, pointing or aiming a gun, simple battery and criminal damage to property.

ABC News' J. Gabriel Ware contributed to this report.

This report was featured in the Monday, June 15, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events